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University of California Berkeley 

University of California Bancroft Library / Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

Walter E. Packard 


With an introduction by 
Alan Temko 

An Interview Conducted by 
Willa Klug Baum 


1970 by The University of California at Berkeley 

Walter Packard 

All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal 
agreement between the Regents of the University of California 
and Walter E. Packard, dated 26 October, 1966. The manuscript 
is thereby made available for research purposes. All literary 
rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are 
reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University of California 
at Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for 
publication without the written permission of the Director of 
the Bancroft Library of the University of California at 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should 
be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, 
and should include identification of the specific passages to 
be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification 
of the user. 


INTRODUCTION by Alan Temko i 





Packard Forebears 1 

Parents: Samuel W. Packard and Clara Fish Packard; Brother and 

Sisters 7 

Childhood 14 

Education 27 

Iowa State College, 1903-1907, Ames, Iowa 

England - 1905 30 

Extra-curricular Activities at Ames 

On a Surveying Crew in Idaho - Summer, 1906 34 

Y.M.C.A. Secretary at Stanford University, 1907-1908 35 

Back to Idaho to Prove a Land Claim, Summer, 1908 36 

Berkeley: Graduate Work in Soils and Irrigation Engineering, 

1908-1909 41 

Irrigation Investigation - 1909 43 

Marriage to Emma Lou Leonard, December 20, 1909 45 

IMPERIAL VALLEY, 1909-1917 48 

Living Conditions in El Centre 48 

Early Local Politics 52 

Social Life 59 

Mrs. Packard: A Stay at Dr. Pottenger s Tuberculosis Sanatorium 64 

Farming Conditions 69 
Establishing the Imperial Valley Agricultural Experiment Station 

of the University of California 73 

Experimental Work and Farmer Education 78 

Experimental Work 78 

Farm Institutes 82 

Work with Frank Veihmeyer 83 

A Russian Soil Scientist Visits the Experiment Farm 86 

Water Distribution: The Imperial Valley Irrigation District and 

the Ail-American Canal 88 

Meloland School 91 

Broadening Ideas 94 



Army Education Corps Lectures 107 

Plan to Rehabilitate Armenia 115 

Brief Statement of Plans for Agricultural Work in Armenia during 

the Fall of the Present Year, 1919 119 

Sightseeing in France 123 


Beginnings of the State Land Settlement Board and the Durham and 

Delhi Land Settlement Projects 140 

Selection of the Delhi Site 144 

Improving the Land 147 

Planning the Town of Delhi 150 

Two-Acre Laborers Allotments 151 

Low Cost Housing; Architect Max Cook 152 

Costs to the Settlers 155 

Environmental Problems: Wind, Rabbits, and Pests 158 

Human Problems and Community Projects 164 

Decreasing Demand for Land; Inexperienced Settlers 173 

Veterans Administration Trainees 176 

Settlers Organize to Demand More Aid from the State 183 

Packard Resigns as Superintendent of Delhi 193 

A PERIOD OF BASIC ADJUSTMENT, July 1924 - June 1926 201 

A Try at Banking and Loan Work 201 

Owens Valley, Consultant for the Los Angeles Department of Water 

and Power 204 

MEXICO, 1926-1929 209 
Soils Survey Assignments in Guatimape, Western Chihuahua, Rio 

Salado, and Other Projects 209 

Guatimape 209 

Western Chihuahua 213 

Rio Salado Project 215 

Chief of the Department of Agronomy of the National Irrigation 

Commission 215 

Problems of Land Holding 217 

Mexican Co-Workers 222 

Personal Experiences, Violence, and Anti-Government Forces 225 

Social Life in Mexico; Influence of Ambassador and Mrs. Dwight Morrow 242 

Daughter Emmy Lou Packard and Diego Rivera 247 

Two Mistakes and a Lesson 261 

INTERIM WORK, 1930-1933 268 

Soil Survey in the Upper San Joaquin Valley 268 

Feasibility of the Central Valley Project 269 

Study of Underground Water for P.G. & E. 270 

Feasibility of the Columbia River Basin Project 273 

Study of the Effect of Cement Dust on Crops 276 

Testimony in a Land Fraud Case for the U.S. Post Office 279 

Water Studies in Owens Valley for the City of Los Angeles 281 

Investigation of Irrigation Districts for the Land Bank 283 

Peninsula School; Palo Alto Community Activities; Family 286 


Marketing Agreement Program for the Pacific Coast 295 

San Francisco General Strike, Summer 1934 300 


1935-1938 302 

Director of Region 9 302 

Purposes of Rural Resettlement Administration 302 

Setting up Region 9 

Migratory Farm Laborers and Labor Camps 

Son-in-law Burton Cairns, Architect; Daughter Emmy Lou; and 

Diego Rivera 
Arizona and Utah 

National Director of the Rural Resettlement Division 325 

Subsistence vs. Middle-Income Farms 

Greer, South Carolina - A Mill Village 

Types of Resettlement Projects 

Casa Grande, Arizona 334 

Southern Projects *36 

An Urban Project, New Jersey 

Individual Farms 

Work of the Washington Office 339 

Life in Washington 341 

Personnel 346 

Closing Out of the Resettlement Administration 346 

CONSULTING WORK, 1939-1944 350 

Irrigation Projects Near Yuma 350 

Study of Baja California for Jewish Settlement 353 

Work With the National Youth Administration 355 

Consultant for the Farm Security Administration in Oregon 357 

Consultant for the U.S. Indian Service 359 

Work With the Commonwealth Club of California 361 

California State Land Classification Commission 361 

Work on the Central Valley Project 366 

War Related Activities 374 

California Housing and Planning Association 375 


Getting Settled in Puerto Rico 378 

Reforms Under the Popular Party and Governor Tugwell 383 

The Land Authority; Problems of Large Land Ownership 388 

Later Developments in the Land Authority Program 395 

Efforts at Birth Control Programs 398 

Appointment of Governor Jesus Pinero 401 

A Preview of the Communist Take-Over in Cuba 403 

Advisor to Governor Pinero 406 

VENEZUELA, 1947 408 

GREECE, 1948-1954 419 
First Assignment, Irrigation Specialist for American Mission for 

Aid to Greece (AMAG) 419 

War Conditions in Greece 421 

Problems of Financial and Political Support for Reclamation Work 435 

Greek Technical Assistants 440 

Life in Greece 443 

Mrs. Packard Comes to Greece 443 

Living Arrangements for Americans 446 

American Women s Activities in Greece - AWOG 449 

Public vs. Private Development of Hydroelectric Power 455 

FAO Memorandum 455 

The Scharff Report 456 

The Gilmore Memorandum 457 

John Nuveen, New Chief of the Mission 459 

A Defeat for Public Power 462 

Return to Washington for a Security Hearing, 1949 464 

Failure to Get a Security Clearance 464 

Side Trip to Israel 465 

Packard Cleared and Sent Back to Greece 471 

Development of Public Power Corporation 474 

Rebuilding War-Damaged Structures 482 
Relationship Between the Mission and the Greek Government Ministries 484 

The Mechanical Cultivation Service 485 
River Development for Flood Control and Irrigation - Master Plans 

by Foreign Companies 489 

Knappen-Tippetts Corporation of New York 489 

The Harza Engineering Company of Chicago 492 

Grontmij Company of Holland 495 

Boot Company of London 496 

Forest and Range Land Rehabilitation 497 

Rice Growing and Alkali Reclamation Program 505 

Anthill 511 

Working with the Villagers 512 

Home Visit, Trips, and Family 515 

Home Leave, 1951 515 

Trip to Germany 517 

Family 520 

Celebrations and Honors from the People of Greece 522 

Farewell to Greece and Final Trip Home, July 1954 528 

JAMAICA, 1955 532 

Consultant for the Kaiser Company 532 


Invitation to Return in 1966 540 

Family 541 


Opposition to the State Water Plan, November 1960 543 

National Planning Association Meeting at Aspen, Colorado 544 

Power from the Northwest for the Central Valley Project 545 
Efforts to Convert Berkeley to Public Power, and to Join in an 

Atomic-Powered Steam Plant 547 

California Power Users Association 550 

Packard s Book on Economic Philosophy 555 


INDEX 592 


I first met Walter Packard in the late Nineteen Forties through his 
daughter Emmy Lou, who was my friend, and I was delighted to find at the 
time -- when I was relatively young and most of the artists and intellectuals 
in North Beach considered themselves dashingly radical -- that her father 
was more radical than any of us. He seemed to have pierced to the heart 
of all the problems that later preoccupied me, long before I was fully 
aware of their complexity; and these ranged from the cleansing and conserving 
of the national environment to social justice at home, to international 
justice and peace, plus the conservation of world resources. I had never 
met anyone who had so comprehensive a grasp of interacting social and 
economic and physical forces. In this sense he s one of the great fathers 
of modern planning. 

Walter Packard was one of the first Americans to think on the 
appropriate physical scale -- that is, a continental scale -- of develop 
ment. I m not speaking in any simplistic sense of manifest destiny, but 
rather in terms of the full national future and the true fulfillment of the 
American people which he saw not only in terms of the land and water and 
energy, but also in terms of global order: a new sort of global order. In 
this he wasn t too different from many visionary nineteenth-century American 
radicals. He was in a great tradition, and it s a tradition we ve lost 
to some extent. 

There are, I think, among the present generation of young people many 
who are trying to revive the high principles and tremendous social commit 
ment of people of Walter Packard s generation. But in my own generation 
I feel that it is rare, partly because of the mood in the world, but also 
partly because of upbringing. So, I ve always been very happy for my own 
children to have known Walter and Emma Packard as well as Lewis and 
Sophia Mumford ; people like that. People whose like I don t think we ll 
ever see again in America, because they knew what their responsibility 
was to the Republic and also saw it in terms of the larger world. While 
they were not fanatics, they didn t compromise and they were also remarkably 
free from the wrong kind of egotism. 

Walter Packard had magnificant self confidence, but he was free 
from what the young people today call an "ego trip." He saw certain issues 
far before his time, although they were of course recognized by others, 
too. The conservation movement, like democratic land legislation in this 
country, is, after all, more than one hundred years old. The great 
Reclamation Act was passed in 1902. The Merrill Land Grant Act, which 
provided sites for the great public universities, was passed in Lincoln s 

We ve had good land legislation (although it has been weakly enforced), 


but what Walter tried to do was put together the mosaic of seemingly disparate 
elements in a profit-motive economy which is not a laissez-faire economy, 
as he realized, but a mixed economy which -- to borrow a phrase from 
Charles Abrams -- works as socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. 
That is, government intervention almost always subsidizes the rich and the 
powerful, especially the great landowners, and abandons the weak and the 
landless to go it alone in our economy. 

Maybe I should go back. I first met him when I was quite young in San 
Francisco in the 40 s, just after the war. I guess in 48, when I was a 
cub reporter on the Chronicle and Emmy Lou, his daughter, was my friend. She 
was then living in a wonderful studio in San Francisco. She is a remarkable 
person in her own right, an extraordinary person and gifted artist, and I 
knew she must have come from remarkable stock. 

What delighted me, when I met both of her parents, was their wonderfully 
upright posture before a world that seemed in grave difficulties and Walter s 
boundless optimism and confidence in human reason at the same time that he 
was dismayed at the human folly he saw about him. 

He had long experience which proved to him that even a modicum of ration 
ality would yield tremendous dividends to people everywhere. This started 
in his first experiments in the Central Valley, at Delhi in the early 
Twenties. Although they did not work out altogether well, these now seemingly 
Utopian experiments, in fact, were motivated by the highest kind of realism. 
Because he realized that what was necessary was to set into motion processes 
which eventually could transform the whole of our environment. In other words, 
you wouldn t want a Moses to lead the people out of the wilderness at a 
single stroke because some false Moses could lead them back. What you wanted 
were processes that transcended individuals because they were based on 

principles of social and economic justice which regarded land and water as 
commonwealth. Furthermore, these principles were not anti-urban or anti- 
technological. Now, this is one of the things that distinguishes Walter 
Packard from the Jef fersonians . There are many people in the older gener 
ation who might be described as Jeffersonian idealists who believe in the 
family farm and small units of settlement. Mumf ord , to some extent, 
thinks in these terms. Walter Packard was one of the first, however, who 
pointed out that a hundred and sixty acres, or three hundred and twenty acres 
in the Central Valley of California, which might be worthless without water 
but are worth a minimum of a thousand dollars an acre with water (sometimes 
two, three thousand dollars an acre). Thus, thanks to publicly subsidized 
water, a husband and wife might have three hundred and twenty thousand 
dollars worth of land. That s not a "family farm," and to work such a farm 
you d need another hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of mechanical 
equipment, raising the total capital investment of three hundred and twenty 
irrigated acres to half a million dollars. 

Well, if you could combine such units in a still larger marketing unit, 
as indeed agri-business does, you would have substantial dividends. The 
trouble with Delhi, in retrospect, would seem that it was under-funded; 


it was probably not big enough; and they also ran into some hard luck. I 
think they got enough results to show that the experiment was worthwhile. 
Whenever Walter was able to implement his programs on a proper scale, and his 
supreme triumph was, of course, in Greece, the rewards were astounding 
to everyone except Walter who foresaw that they would pay off in this way. 

This has long been one of the canons in the bible of socialism, but 
Walter s socialism was not at all reverential. Still less, of course, 
was it fanatical or totalitarian. It was a deeply personalized concept of 
socialism. . .well, at one level you could say it was to turn the world into a 
gigantic Berkeley Co-op. 

But why was that? Because he believed that the consumer, rather than 
the producer, was the unit for planning. Now, in Marxist theory there should 
be an identity of interest between producer and consumer. The fact is, 
however, that if the producer decides to produce heavy steel girders rather 
than light steel for a toaster or some other convenience for a housewife -- 
suppose, for instance, that a socialist government is more interested in 
making locomotives than washing machines -- the consumer may not feel that 
his interests are being represented in the short run. There s not necessarily 
an identity of interests. 

This gets very complex in agriculture and Walter formulated a complete 
system to overcome its theoretical difficulties. In his last years he tried 
to write it again and again in a rather unwritable book because it would 
have taken the equivalent of the French Philosophes , the encyclopedists of 
the 18th century, writing continuously on many fronts, to deal with the full 
complexity. But it was all in his head. By his theory, as I understood it, 
you would reorganize the world economy on a truly third world basis which 
followed neither the American nor the Soviet model, still less the muddling, 
the losing-through of countries like India. Not "winning-through" but the 
"losing-through." What you would have was a socialist organization of the 
economy based on consumer needs. You would plan for the needs of the people. 
This would mean that you would not only plan to feed them but to feed them 
in such a way that the land, water, and other resources would be husbanded 
at the same time. 

In principle such planning would be no different, say, from good public 
education. You would do everything in behalf of people, or rather the people 
would do things in their own behalf, and then the system of production would 
somehow fall into line. 

He had not the slightest question that this was the most rational 
organization of society. Unfortunately, not too many people even were at this 
conceptual plane. Very few planners really grasp the dichotomy between the 
consumer-oriented economy and the producer-oriented economy. 

What made this so significant to me was his bringing in the quality of 
environment into the dry science of economics. Now, other people, such as 
Galbraith, have done this very brilliantly, but Galbraith has done this as 


a pragraatist, a Keynesian. Walter was not a Keynsian economist. He was a 
logical theoretician who had a complete socialism of his own. He argued that 
even if you could apply parts of his system, for example in Greece where he 
thought primarily of the people as consumers -- very deprived consumers -- 
human happiness would be greatly incresed. He thought the same way in 
Mexico and Puerto Rico, wherever he worked. I should add that beyond being a 
brilliant theoretical economist, he was an excellent agricultural scientist. 
He knew the land. This paid off tremendously in Greece where he understood 
the soil. He was a first-rate agronomist, and his competence in other 
technical and scientific fields was really impressive. 

For example he was deeply interested in metals which are relatively 
scarce, such as manganese, and that the United States with less than a tenth 
of the people in the world (really only seven percent of the people in the world) 
was consuming ninety-eight percent of some of these metals. We probably consume 
ninety percent of the world manganese supply. Certainly far out of proportion 
to the American population. 

He saw imperialism in its most naked aspect as the seizure of resources 
by force and as soon as the countries whose resources were being seized were 
no longer supine, or at least no longer ignorant, they would seek to recover 
these resources or at least resist being bled. Walter could see an area like 
the Congo very accurately and understood why Katanga was made a separate province, 
He was quite aware of the Rockerfeller interests, the Belgian mining consortium. 
For a man who in personal manner belonged to the nineteenth century with its 
warmth and goodness and charm -- its almost rural charm, the charm of an lowan 
from that generation -- he was certainly well-informed about the corporate 
intricacies of the twentieth ".entury. 

He was educated at Ames, and if you ve ever been to Ames, you know what 
a gracious place it is. Iowa is a great civilization, and both in Iowa and 
New England the Packard family had wonderful ancestors. One Mrs. Elizabeth W. 
Packard, Walter Packard s grandmother, the woman who was the great reformer for 
mental illness. She was for women s liberation and she was of the same genera 
tion as Margaret Fuller, Buckminster Fuller s aunt. 

And you know, there s a great similarity between Bucky Fuller and Walter 
Packard -- these fearless American intellectuals who are willing to tackle 
everything on a global basis and who have tremendous faith in science as well 
as in properly applied technology. Walter was much more sophisticated than 
Buckminster Fuller about politics, but they both had this rare personal kindness 
as well as profound conviction. They came out from the same Protestant liberal 
tradition or radical tradition. I think it s correct to call it radical. If 
I recall rightly, her husband tried to commit Walter s grandmother to a mental 
institution, and she was among the first to insist on proper legal safeguards 
for the mentally ill against being wrongly confined to institutions against 
their will, especially if sometimes they just had radical ideas rather than any 
great trouble with their brain. 

To appreciate this heritage one must go to Iowa and see these old Protes 
tant communities with their liberal arts colleges. Beneath the dome of the Iowa 
state capitol, the rotunda, the balustrades and pavements and walls of the great 

space, are inscribed with the names of the Iowa dead in the Civil War and you 
are staggered to see the carnage which this little agricultural state endured. 
It is poignant even now to see all these names. And then you look up and in 
the dome there s a great eagle carrying in its talons a ribbon which says, 
"Union and Liberty, Now and Forever." That an agricultural society did this 
for union and liberty -- made such a conspicuous sacrifice -- not for the indus 
trial north but for the agrarian west -- is very moving to me. Iowa with its 
rich farms is outwardly a conservative state, but there has always been much 
healthy ferment in Iowa and the Packards represent its finest nineteenth cen 
tury values . 

Then, too, they knew California when it was still largely unspoiled. 
I remember Walter telling me of riding, on horseback of course, from Pasadena 
to Orange County. This must have been the 1890 s when he was a young man. 
The splendid valley below the San Gabriel Mountains, the great valley that goes 
past Riverside out towards San Bernardino, was then totally unspoiled and he 
told me of sleeping beneath the stars and he had this feeling for the land 
wherever he went. He could go to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Greece, or any place in 
the United States, and feel the veracity of the earth. He knew that men could 
violate the dictates of the earth at their gravest peril. That is, you could 
modify the earth as he did in Greece. You could heal the earth where it had 
been wounded; you could restore it. You could work with the earth, but you 
could not plunder the earth. You had to farm it rather than mine it, and I 
think if he had had a chance to do so in Puerto Rico he would have had a grand 
coup. Probably the present Supreme Court would not have declared his programs 
unconsitutional , but Walter and Rex Tugwell had to contend with the "Nine Old 
Men" of the Thirties. 

Another significant contribution was his work for the Farm Security 
Administration. No one felt more deeply the tragedy of the Oakies and Arkies 
than Walter Packard. He understood the entire process that had driven these 
unfortunates from their farms and across the continent to California where they 
worked not as independent farmers but as migrant pickers or laborers. The mal 
treatment of the land during and after the World War I wheat boom, the almost 
institutionalized greed in farming for a boom market of this sort -- literally 
ruined the land, and nature struck back as it will when it s wounded, as we re 
finding out it does all over the world now. Walter, moved by civilized compas 
sion for these people, acted powerfully to help them. 

One of the things he did was put them in the best low-cost rural housing 
in the history of modern architecture. At this time his daughter Emmy Lou was 
married to a brilliant young architect named Burton Cairns, who was to die in 
a tragic automobile accident. Cairns was the partner of Vernon DeMars, who has 
since designed the student center at the University of California, and who has 
considerable importance as a social architect. 

DeMars, Cairns, and other excellent young architects and planners who 
either had been Walter s students or were Emmy Lou s friends, joined his staff, 
and some who did not actually work for him participated conceptually in the 
problems confronting him. It was characteristic of Walter that gifted young 
men were always clustered about him, and many of them are ornaments of the design 
professors and of the faculty of the University of California today. They are 


now in their fifties. Garrett Eckbo, Vernon DeMars , Francis Violich, Jack 
Kent (T.J. Kent, Jr.) and others formed a group called Telesis. Today the word 
"futurism" is very common, but it was not in the Thirties when these men were 
young and Walter was in his prime, and they thought of the whole future of man s 
habitat. It was the first movement of its kind that elevated California environ 
mental theory to the highest international level. Elsewhere there had been 
groups such as CIAM -- the International Congress of Modern Architects -- which 
issued its charter of Athens in 1933. There was the MARS Group in London -- 
they all had initials or trick names. But never before in California had there 
been environmental thought at this level. Although there had been some planning, 
there was not school of planning at the University. Jack Kent started the De 
partment of City and Regional Planning after the war. He was a friend of Emmy 
Lou s, of course, and of the Packards. They didn t live too far away from one 
another on the north side. 

But, Walter Packard was the soul of this Telesis Group. He got his son- 
in-law (I don t know if he was then already his son-in-law, but he was soon to 
be) and DeMars and other young architects, all from the Bay Area pretty much, to 
do the Farm Security structures which to this day in our country remain unsur 
passed for dignity and economy in housing for poor, rural people. 

These buildings of uncompromising modern architecture gained international 
renown. They made Vernon DeMars reputation. People like J.M. Richards put 
them in his History of Modern Architecture. There are still some of those housing 
complexes left and they look very good thirty years after, considering how little 
money they cost, which was less than war housing a few years later. What a bar- 
gin the public got! 

These buildings were just like Walter Packard himself. They were straight 
forward, they were at home in nature, they were as cordial as they could be 
within the budget allowed and they did not design down to poor people. They demon 
strated that poor people should have the best of design within the resources 
available. This was Walter s spirit. 

Walter had a way of communicating his enthusiasms. I was a member of his 
group that was going to try to free Berkeley from its servitude to P.G. and E., 
and persuade the city to establish its own public power system in cooperation 
with several other Bay Area communities. This was when he was in his later sev 
enties. To his last day, of course, he was the staunchest advocate of public 
power. He believed it should belong to the people. And of course, Palo Alto 
and other cities have gone far to do this even without public ownership. Palo 
Alto buys power wholesale from P.G. and E. and then retails it at low rates to 
consumers. Berkeley, lacking such intelligent policy, allows P.G. and E. to 
retail power. 

What Walter wanted to do was liberate several Bay Area communities, in 
cluding Santa Clara and Palo Alto from any connection with P.G. and E. Together 
they could build their own nuclear reactor. Now, it was typical of Walter that 
he was very early receptive to the idea of a nuclear reactor In the Delta. He 
had not the slighest doubt that technical difficulties could be overcome, and 
I was a member of that group and I remember how exhilarating his enthusiasm was. 
He was, of course, deeply critical of any private manipulation of public invest 
ment in water or power. He rightly saw that energy, together with water and the 


land itself, is the key to the wealth of any community. 

For this reason he was irreconcilably opposed to the unwise State Water 
Plan, which will enrich large landowners at the expense of the poor. The 
Washington Post published his strong views on the subject in an article that 
should be reprinted because of its relevance today. I was involved because I 
asked the editors of the Post to give prominence to Walter s views and they 
suggested a dialogue or debate between him and some worthy opponent, and they 
found Senator Kuchel. The Senator s views occupied one half of the pages and 
Walter s the other with a map of California dividing the two articles, but an 
entire philosophy of life separated the two. Kuchel was not a bad senator. 
But he was very bad on water policy as were leading men in both political parties 
in California, and the state is now regretting it. Walter foresaw in 1962 or 
63 all of the difficulties that we are in today. He also clearly discerned the 
unconscionable enrichment of the large private land owners through the circum 
vention of the 1902 law. What the State Plan proposed is illegal. If the 
Reclamation Act were enforced properly, as Walter said it should be, there could 
be no violation of the 160-acre limitation by a separate state stystem whose 
waters intermingled with Federal waters. Paul Taylor, who was Walter s student, 
keeps on with that fight, and he has succeeded Walter as the great man of land 
and water conservation in California. Between men of Paul Taylor s age and the 
present generation of young people who are just starting to learn that this is 
their fight, too, there are relatively few people who have shared in this strug 
gle, and they belong to organizations whose names we have almost forgotten, 
like the Grange. But the new generation, I m sure, will not give up the fight. 

One of my happiest thoughts is that my children have known Walter and 
Emma Packard. I remember a beautiful incident that occurred when Walter was 
quite old. It s interesting that both he and Lewis Mumford were rather grieved 
that my children did not know much about gardening and farming. We were all to 
have dinner at my house, and we wondered where Walter and the children were, 
and we found him out in the garden on his knees teaching them how to plant pota 
toes. They were planting potatoes together. It was very, very beautiful. He 
said, "Don t stop now that they know how to plant potatoes." It made a deep 
impression on the children and they loved his spirit. I remember his indomitable 
spirit after his automobile crash. You know, he had this little sports car with 
bucket seats, my cousin Henry Brean was one of the doctors who patched him to 
gether after the accident and my cousin said, "Everything he could break, he 
broke." Walter was about eighty, but his courage and vigor led him to an astound 
ing recovery. I remember he had a triangle above his bed he was supposed to 
work out on, and he also had a bar, a metal bar, on which he was to exercise and 
recover the movement of his limbs. He had a nurse whom he didn t think came 
quickly enough, and he d BANG on this great triangle to the delight of my child 
ren. He also experimented with the remote control of the TV -- then a novelty -- 
and just delighted them. 

But he was always filled with the most marvelous irreverent humor, and, 
although he was a man of remarkable personal fastidiousness and refinement, he 
had a heartiness to him that was most winning. He once told me that as a born 
troublemaker himself, one of his favorite quotations in all history was Luther s 
remark, "When I break wind in Vienna they smell me in Rome." 


Walter was a great reformer in the highest sense, in the Protestant 
sense. Protestantism that is worthy of our own age and which is out of fashion 
now among the people running our country. But it s now out of fashion among 
the young people and I think that the great march for People s Park last spring, 
with the students carrying green banners, and flying green kites, and defying 
everything that was ugly and repressive, in a sense vindicated the gay spirit of 
Walter. How he would have liked that green paper helicopter that was such a 
wonderful satire of the Army helicopters, bedecked with flowers and flying the 
kites that fouled the rotors of the military helicopters. How that would have 
appealed to his sense of merriment. But, as all these young people marched, 
Walter was marching with them. He was a very great man. 

The greatest teachers are not professional teachers. Although Walter 
did teach, I think at Stanford and Harvard, he was primarily a man of action 
who understood the real world from a solid intellectual base. He had something 
to say, and he quickened to any subject. His range was so wide and his confi 
dence was so deep that he had this extraordinary power of elucidating the most 
knotty problems of our time, and young people warmed to this particularly when 
they saw he shared a radical position. 

Alan Temko 

Lecturer in Social Science 

Introduction tape-recorded 

2 February 1970 

650 Barrows Hall 

University of California at Berkeley 



by Carey McWilliaras, Editor, The Nation 

Without checking through files and records, many of which are in 
California, I would be unable to say when I first met Walter Packard. But 
I knew him for many years in an on-and-off manner, with infrequent but 
always memorable meetings, and occasionally we exchanged letters. But 
we had other modes of communication, as when I read something he had written 
or heard of him and about him from mutual friends. As a matter of fact 
I knew of him long before we met. 

There was a Walter Packard legend in his lifetime. The qualities 
that the legend stressed were real enough but he was an even finer human 
being when you got to know him than the legendary Walter Packard. My 
impressions can be summed up simply. He was a good man. Goodness pervaded 
every aspect of his life. He radiated goodness. There was no malice in 
him -- none that I could ever detect -- and no pettiness. He was a very 
wise man too. Sometimes he kept his wisdom in check, that is you felt -- 
I felt -- that he could have said more about some person or some situation 
if he could have done so without appearing to be unkind. 

I feel sure that his great qualities -- his remarkable qualities as a 
human being -- were a prime factor in his social achievements in Greece. 
The villagers with whom he worked knew that this was a good man -- a 
person they could trust. He won their cooperation because he had their 
confidence and also because what he wanted -- and they knew this -- was 
their cooperation, not their compliance with directives. 

His goodness was infectious; so was his optimism, his good cheer, 
his sense that this could be a better world for everyone. For all that we 
say we are "democrats" and believe in democracy, it is remarkable that 
one meets so few Americans who really understand democratic principles 
and try to apply them and who have confidence that, if tried, they will 
work. Walter Packard was such a person. He was one of the few individuals 
I have known who had thought deeply, steadily, and acutely about what 
democracy means and what it does not mean. His social philosophy was 
profoundly democratic. 

We were not intimate friends -- we exchanged no confidences. But I 
shall always cherish my memories of this great and good man. 

Carey McWilliams 

New York 
August 25, 1969 

t COPY] 


Hotel Grande-Bretagne 
Athenes, Greece 

April 26, 1962 
Dear Walter Packard: 

With this report on my Hellenic Hegira are transmitted officially 
the greetings of a considerable section of the Greek Walter Packard public. 
In fact, I am beginning to feel as if through you I am in on the birth 
of a new saga of Greek Mythology, whereby 2000 years from now Walter 
Packard will have moved into the legends of the gods along with Achilles, 
Hector, Theseus and the children will no longer hear of the Labors of 
Herakles but of the Work of Walter. 

Anyway, after landing at Patras , motoring to Olympia, Delphi, and 
Athens, joining up with my shipmates for a week of charter-boat sailing 
among the Aegean Islands (most successful despite very rough seas) Mary 
and I got rid of most of our companions and started down the Packard 
trail in Athens. I called on and identified myself to Professor Pezopolous 
of the Public Power Authority, John Paleologue, head of Greek Reclamation, 
George Papadoupoulos , head of Greek Reclamation and Frixos Letsas. In 
each case, long and interesting conversations followed but only after they 
demanded (and I happily supplied) a report on your present welfare, health 
and activity. 

I should judge your Greek National Power System is the outstanding 
success of the American-Greek program. I saw new transmission lines all 
over the country and the Greeks are wasting kilowatts all over the country 
with illuminated advertising signs and similar manifestations of progress 
as well as power into remote rural settlements such as the Rural Electri 
fication Administration would have passed up at home. This month the 
Greek Public Power System finished the take-over of the Athens-Piraeus 
old British concession corporation system (at what I suspect was too high 
a price) and the program for which you fought and bled has most definitely 
won out. In fact, I know no other spot on the globe where by American 
activity such a public power program has become so firmly established 
with such success. Congratulations! 

At the Reclamation service office of John Paleologue there immediately 
appeared George Papadoupoulos and Frixos Letsas and we held old home 
week. Papadoupoulos in particular, knew all about me as he was a former 
U.S. Reclamation trainee from Greece. In addition to Walter Packard s 
introduction the others there were naturally familiar with U.S. Reclamation. 
First came the inquiries about and the report on Walter Packard followed 
by a long and very interesting session on water development in which they 
asked me more questions than I asked them. Also, I told them my life would 
not be complete until I saw the Anthili project and the graven image of 
Walter Packard in the town square. 

Which to the best of my knowledge is the only one to an American 
engineer in any aid program overseas, as most other American engineers were 


eventually told "Yankee, Go Home" instead of having local statues in their 
honor . 

The next day in one car supplied by myself and one by Paleologue 
with a fine young English speaking Reclamation official Vasilios G. 
Karavias as escort (he is an ex-Bureau trainee) we made the long and 
fascinating trip to Anthili all in one day instead of stopping the night 
at Delphi as you suggested as we had earlier visited Delphi and we took 
with us my Chicago Surgeon brother and his doctor wife. It took us about 
14 hours including stops and visits to two Reclamation regional head 
quarters en-route. It was worth while as we got into Greek territory and 
activity never found on the archeological and nautical circuits. 

At Anthili as per directions, Mary greatly enjoyed distributing 
a bushel of candy in the plaza in front of your statue to a mob of 
children and in her best Greek proclaiming it came from you who had not 
forgotten the kids. They got the idea O.K. -- and the linguistic feat was 
made easier by first pointing at the marble bust, then the candy, and then 
the kids. 

I went all over the rice project -- an obvious success -- and the 
Greeks roasted a lamb for us, we had dinner and we all made we-love-you 
speeches to each other. Among the other things I told them that if they 
did not clear the heavy weeds out of their deep drains you would be back 
to haunt them --an idea that only drew unsolicited and unexpected 

Last night Mr. and Mrs. Letsas, Mr. and Mrs. John Paleologue and 
Mr. and Mrs. George Papdoupoulos threw a dinner for the Dr. Strauses, 
Mary and myself in an Athens taverna that was strictly social and a 
howling success. A message to you, a testimonial and signatures are 
enclosed. Pictures will follow in a few months when we get them developed. 

Thank you, Walter for the Greek introduction that was so fruitful. 
I can understand why you look back with such justifiable pride on your 
Greek experience. 

Shortly we leave Greece for Jugoslavia, Austria, Central Europe, then 
Scandinavia and home -- or at least an island off Maine for we rented our 
Washington house until September which we took care of our own instead 
of everybody else s business. I feel like a deserter from the CVP fight 
but will re-enlist again on my return. 

As ever, 

Michael W. Straus 

Commissioner of Reclamation in the 
Truman Administration. 



Walter E. Packard was interviewed for the Regional Oral History Office 
as a part of series on agriculture, land, and resources development for 
which Paul S. Taylor, Professor of Economics, served as faculty advisor. 

Start of Interview 

Because of his long and illustrious career in California, the United 
States, Greece, and Latin America as a pioneer in combining land, people, 
and the available natural resources into a productive unit, Walter Packard 
was asked in 1962 to participate in the interviewing program of the Regional 
Oral History Office. At that time Mr. Packard was busily engaged in pre 
paring a manuscript on the economic theories he had evolved from his 
experiences and the interviewing was postponed. 

In February of 1962 Mr. Packard was hospitalized because of an 
automobile accident. Although almost no funds were then available, it 
was decided to go ahead with interviewing as soon as Mr. Packard was 
able, using his papers as the major source of background material. The 
interviewer visited Mr. Packard in a convelescent home where the outlines 
of the interviews were established, and subsequently spent many hours with 
Mrs. Packard going over papers and getting the Packard chronology from 

Upon Mr. Packard s return home, the weekly interviewing began. At 
the same time, Mr. and Mrs. Packard devoted much time to sorting and 
arranging their papers preparatory to depositing them in The Bancroft Library. 
Mr. Packard worked at these two tasks with increasing vigor as he recovered 
from his accident. 

Time and Setting of Interviews 

Eight interview sessions were held in April and May 1964; one final 
recording session was held August 15, 1966, two months before Mr. 
Packard s death. Present were Walter E. Packard, Mrs. Emma Packard, and 
the interviewer, Mrs. Willa Baum. 

The interviews were held one afternoon a week, at the Packard home at 
773 Cragmont Avenue, Berkeley. The tape recorder was set up at the dining 
table, next to a large window overlooking the Bay. On one side of the 
table, with notes, was the interviewer; on the other side, Mr. Packard with 
a large pile of illustrative papers, and Mrs Packard next to him to aid 
him in reading the materials his eyes could no longer cope with. Mr. 
Packard always started with a prepared text, sometimes handwritten in full, 
sometimes only minutely planned by means of copious notes, with materials 
to be read at the proper points. He confessed to mic fright" often and 


his remarks were always more formal during the interview than in the times 
when he and the interviewer were rummaging around in the papers he had 
in his garden study. 

Mrs. Packard was more apt to speak informally and to add the personal 
dimension to the narrative, and her remarks have been retained throughout. 

Midway through each interview session, there was always a break when 
Mrs. Packard would serve the weekly bake of oatmeal cookies with coffee. 
Then the interviewer would take a few minutes to admire the mementoes of 
Greece and Mexico on the shelves, the paintings and prints on the walls, 
many by daughter Emmy Lou Packard , or to note the new blooms in the terraced 
garden in the back. 


There was a delay of about a year in transcribing, due to lack of funds. 
During this period Mr. Packard worked on sorting his papers for deposit in 
Bancroft Library, and on rewriting his economic philosophy book. As his strength 
returned, he devoted more and more time to work for public power, and was 
instrumental in organizing the California Power Users Association. In January 
1965, UC Extension held a showing of Ed Murrow s movie of Mr. Packard s work 
in Greece, which was attended by many faculty members in the agricultural 
fields and by friends of the Packard family. 

The transcripts of the interviews were returned one by one in June and 
July of 1965. Mr. and Mrs. Packard each went over every interview carefully 
and did considerable revising and adding of material. Some sample documents 
were added to the transcript -- all the other documents were placed in The 
Bancroft Library where they may be consulted by researchers. Editing work 
by the Packards continued through the summer of 1966. 

At that time Mr. Packard became ill and had to withdraw from his public 
power work. He wished to record that phase of his work which had taken place 
after the close of the interviewing, and that brief interview was recorded 
on August 15, 1966, but Mr. Packard was not well enough to relate his work 
in as much detail as he would have liked. He was able to complete the 
corrections on that brief interview just a week before his death in October 

It had been Mr. Packard s intention to review the manuscript in its 
entirety one more time. Mrs. Packard took on that job after his death and 
reread and checked the whole thing, but made no changes except to correcc 
name s . 

Final Typing and Completion 

Again the work was halted through lack of funds. The faculty members 
whom Mr. Packard had worked with in the early days of the Resettlement 


Administration -- "Walter s boys" as Mrs. Packard called them Garret 
Eckbo, Francis Violich, Vernon DeMars, and especially a younger admirer, 
architectural critic Alan Temko, were eager to see the Packard manuscript 
completed for research use. Through their efforts, funding was obtained 
from the Department of Landscape Architecture for final typing, and a check 
from the Western History Research Center of the University of Wyoming made 
possible the final photocopying. Alan Temko prepared an introduction. 

Willa Klug Baum, Head 
Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

2 April 1970 


Packard Forebears 

[First Interview - April 13, 1964. Subsequent interviews 
are not dated because Mr. Packard rearranged and revised 
the material substantially from the original interviews.] 

Packard: It seems to me that, in recording my life story, I should 

begin by mentioning what we in the family call "the Packard 
conscience". I don t know what the psychologists would 
name it. But, in any case, it was very real. It appeared 
first as a dedication to religious beliefs, which dominated 
the personal character and social behavior of my forebears. 
Their beliefs were not always consistent or rational, but 
they were held with a tenacity which gives meaning to the 
"Packard conscience". In my own case, this inner impulse 
has, over the years, led me to choose employment on public 
enterprises designed to serve the general welfare rather 
than being dedicated to individual profit making. This 
does not mean that I was a "do gooder" or that I lacked 
an inner urge to make money. It means, rather, that my 
controlling impulse was conditioned by the "Packard 
conscience". My story, therefore, is not the story of 
one who started out with a well-established philosophy 
of life, but rather the story of a neophyte or "innocent 

Packard: abroad", who, through experiencesgood and bad-- and through 
continuing study, has developed a democratic philosophy- 
economic, social, and politicalwhich to him seems to make 
sense . 

The Packards were originally the PiccSrds in France; 
they were French Huguenots who moved first to Holland and 
then to England and in the moving their name was changed 
to Packard. Samuel Packard of Windham, Norfolk County, 
England, was the father of the Packard family in the 
United States. He moved from England in 1638 with his wife 
and family and settled in Plymouth colony eighteen years 
after the landing of the colonists at Plymouth Rock. He 
moved to Bridgewater in 1664, and became an officer there. 
He and his sons were engaged in the great Indian wars 
of that period. He was more interested in political liberties 
than he was in religious liberties; he was primarily inter 
ested in freedom of expression. 

My great-grandfather, Theophilus Packard, D.D., 
this was four generations later was born in North Bridgeport, 
Massachusetts in 1765. He graduated from Dartmouth College 
in 1796. (Reading from a genealogy of the Packard family)* 

"He was ordained in Shelbourne, Massachusetts, 
February 20, 1799. He was on the Board of Trustees 
of Williams College from 1810 to 1825 and was on the 
Board of Overseers of the Fund or Trustees of Amherst 
College from 1821 to 1854. He represented Shelbourne 
in the state legislature from 1829, 1830, and 1839. 
He received a doctorate from Dartmouth College in 1824." 

^Genealogies of Samuel Packard and of Abel Packard , by 
Rev. Theophilus Packard, Jr., 1871~T~G. W. Wheat & Co., 1871. 

Packard: His son, Theophilus Packard, Jr., was my grandfather, 
(reading) : 

"Reverend Theophilus Packard, Jr., was born in 
Shelbourne, Massachusetts, February 1, 1802; died 
December 19, 1885, at Manteno, Illinois, and married 
Elizabeth Parsons Ware, May 21, 1839, daughter of 
Reverend Samuel Ware, who was born in Ware, Massachusetts, 
They had six children." 

The astonishing character of my grandfather s religious 
beliefs is expressed in various quotes from his diary. 
Here is what he wrote about his first son. (Reading from 
diary of grandfather, Rev. Theophilus Packard, Jr.) 

"Seventeenth of March, 1842. My first child was 
born Thursday, about the middle of the forenoon. We 
called his name Theophilus after his father and grand 
father. On the day of his birth I retired to a private 
chamber and with deep solemn emotion of heart I con 
secrated him to God by prayer, earnestly beseeching 
God to recreate and renew him by the Holy Spirit and 
make him a Christian. On the first of May, 1842, 
Theophilus was baptized in church by my father, and 
on the evening of that day my father and mother gave 
me $2 to be given to him to secure some good book 
for his benefit with the charge that he should in 
time to come, look on their graves and remember them 
and this, their gift to them and prepare to meet 
them in heaven. About twenty-five years afterwards 
I sent Theophilus the money, then $10, and gave him 
the instructions and charge of his grandparents, 
and may God use the same for the eternal welfare of 
my first-born son. Oh, what painful anxiety I felt 
for the soul of this dear son. From early childhood 
he has been prayed for day by day and has been interested 
in the matter of personal piety and has been taught 
to pray himself, but all this will not save his soul. 
Oh God, make him a Christian. "... 

"My third son [my father - W.P.] was born November 
29, 1847, whom we called Samuel Ware after his grand 
father Ware and the ancestor of all the Packards 
in this country, who came over from England in 1630. 
My son Samuel was baptized by the Rev. Samuel Day, 
who preached for me on that Sabbath. My heart s 
desire and prayer to God is that this son Samuel 
may become a Bible-Christian and serve God faithfully. " 

Baum: You must have had quite an illustrious family to have a 
whole book of genealogy about them. 

Packard: Well, the Packard family is rather proud of its heritage. 
My grandfather occupied the pulpit in Shelbourne for 
a number of years and then due to ill health resigned over 
the protest of his parishioners, and moved first to Ohio 
where he remained for a year, and then to Mt . Pleasant, 
Iowa, where he was pastor for two years. He then moved 
back to Illinois and settled first in Manteno, but lived 
in Chicago part of the time. 

His wife had a very different personality from my 
grandfather. She was reported to have been a very beau 
tiful woman and very popular in the neighborhood. It was 
said that Henry Ward Beecher was one of her suitors. She 
had a very active mind and was not inclined to accept the 
complete orthodoxy of her husband.. She was influenced 
by the Unitarian doctrine and soon became quite active in 
the Unitarian Church. This difference of opinion increased 
the separation between the two, and it culminated in Manteno, 
where she became so active in propagandizing her own ideas 
against the teachings of her husband in the church that 
the parishioners petitioned that she be sent to a mental 
hospital in Jacksonville , Illinois. 

Over her violent protests, and the protests of some 
others who took her side in the controversy, she was taken 
forcibly to the state hospital where she remained for 

Packard: three years. She was finally released as an incurable 

patient, according to the testimony of the director of the 
institution. While there she was well taken care of, but 
she created quite a lot of disturbance because she was 
still a propagandist. She resisted being in the sanitarium. 
When she was finally released she was sent to an insane 
asylum in Kankakee , again over her protests. She had 
to be carried out of the train and forcibly carried into 
the institution. She was placed in common wards with people 
of various degrees of insanity. 

Finally, by getting letters out, she got the attention 
of some leaders on the outside which led to her final release, 
Upon her release she became a very active propagandist for 
laws that would protect a person from being sent to an 
asylum without a legal hearing. The extent of her influ 
ence is shown by the following quote from research made 
by Dr. Francis J. Gerty: 

(This is from a clipping from the newspaper, the 
New Mexican, in 1958, and it s headed, "Plight of 
Mentally 111 Aided by Three Nineteenth Century 
Women". This is from a report to a big conference, 
and we wrote to Dr. Gerty after a niece sent this 

"Ever think to yourself, Boy, what would I give 
to get rid of my wife for a year or so. Well, you re 
living a hundred years too late. Back in the 1850 s 
it was easy. All you had do in some states was to 
report that your wife was acting crazy, sign com 
mitment papers, and have her whisked away to the state 
insane asylum. But things are different now, and 
behind the legislation to protect the distaff side, at 
the expense of adding considerably to domestic battles, 
was the wife of a long-suffering Presbyterian minister. 

Packard: In the words of Dr. Francis J. Gerty, the new president 
of the American Psychiatric Association, she was, 
"a crackpot who could look awfully good fighting for a 
cause." Dr. Gerty, head of psychiatry at University 
of Illinois Medical School, has made a scholarly 
study of legislation concerning the mentally ill. 
According to him, three women played major roles in 
this area. They were: Dorothea Lynn Dix, a strong- 
willed social worker who brought about the establishment 
of many state hospitals for the insane in the 1840 s; 
Mrs. Elizabeth W. Packard, who was put away by her 
minister husband in 1860 and following her release 
battled successfully for personal liberty laws which 
gave everyone a right to trial by jury before being 
committed; Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the 
sixteenth President of the United States. Because 
of Mrs. Packard s crusade, Mrs. Lincoln was forced 
to undergo humiliating public trial before commitment. 
Her case helped bring about legislation by which 
people could be committed more quietly." 

In carrying on her campaign, Mrs. Packard moved to 
Chicago where she purchased a house and kept two of her 
children for a while and all of them later on. She 
supported herself and her family by the writing and 
publication of books, eight or ten books, dealing with 
various facets of the same problem.* There is one in the 
University of California library. Many of them were on 
her own experiences. She took in nearly $50,000 [Theophilus 
Packard s Diary says $10,000 - E. L. P.] from the sale 

Packard: of these books and financed a campaign whereby she success 
fully established legislation governing the commitment 
of people to insane asylums in seven [or twelve - E. L. P.] 
different states. On two occasions she was invited to the 
White House to interview President Grant in connection 
with getting his support, which she did. 

Baum: How did her husband feel about all this? I suppose they 
were separated after that. 

Packard: He was, of course, greatly disturbed. He moved back to 
Massachusetts for a while, then returned to Manteno, 
where he lived with a sister until he died in 1885. My 
grandmother secured a divorce and supported the family. 

Parents, Samuel Ware Packard and Clara Fish Packard; Brother & Sisters 
Packard: My father, who was born in Shelbourne moved west with the 
family- Now Emmy, will you read from that sketch about 
my father? [See copy of article.] After establishing a 
profitable practice in Chicago, my father s office was 
destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871, so he took time 
off for a trip to Denver, Colorado. On his way the train 
to Denver was stopped on several occasions by herds of buffalo 
crossing the tracks on their trek south. He spent most 
of his time in Colorado in hunting buffalo. The stories 
of the Chicago fire and of his exploits with Mudeater and 
Prairie Dog Dave of buffalo hunting days, used to thrill us 
children as often as they were told. If my father had not 
been so deeply religious he would have been quite a gay 

Packard: character. He disguised his speculation on the stock 
market as investments, rather than gambling. 

The influence of my grandfather s religious teaching 
is evident in some of these stories because he made attempts 
to convert both of these buffalo hunting characters. 
During his time in the West his father was writing to 
him about becoming a minister instead of going into the 
law. My father considered this very seriously and I think 
all during the rest of his life felt rather guilty for 
not having taken up the ministry as his father and grand 
father and great-grandfather had done. But he went back 
to Chicago and resumed his law practice there. 

In a letter to his mother three years later he said, 
"Fortune seems to smile on us. (the partnership) Our 
business is wonderful -- I hope to have at least $100,000 
salted down-- so that I can move to a better climate and 
there devote myself to carrying on some great or noble 
reformation, as you do." In the same letter, he said, 
"I hope to get married to a young lady of nineteen that I 
met about nine months ago. She is a good Christian girl, 
sensible, true, refined, and I love her with all my heart." 

The following account of the wedding appeared in the 
Chicago Legal News . 

"On Tuesday, the 23rd instant (1874) at Lombard, 111., 
Samuel W. Packard Esq. of the law firm of Cooper, 
Garnett and Packard of this city was married to Miss 
Clara A. Fish, a most esteemed and popular young 
lady of the former place. The ceremony was performed 
in the Congregational Church of Lombard. The Rev. 

Packard: Charles Canano, the pastor, assisted by the Rev. 

Theophilus Packard, Jr., father of the groom, offi 
ciated at the services which took place in the presence 
of a large group of the friends of the bride and groom 
from Lombard, as well as many members of the Chicago 
bar and their ladies, for whose accomodation a special 
train was provided." 

After a brief honeymoon on a lake trip, the newly- 
weds settled in a large two-story house on Holly Court, 
in Oak Park, 111., where I was born. In a letter to his 
mother, my father describes the place as follows, "The 
house I have rented is a very fine, large square house 
with two bay windows, two sides, and is heated by a 
futmace. " 

Although my mother was a professed Christian and a 
member of the Congregational Church, she never accepted 
my father s fundamentalism. The conflict of beliefs between 
my grandfather and his wife was reflected in a somewhat 
similar conflict between my father and mother. My father 
served as deacon in the Oak Park Congregational Church 
for many years, while my mother s interest was centered 
in social service work of various kinds. Among other 
things, she organized a reading room for use by servant 
girls on their days off. The going rate of pay for a 
servant girl at that time was $3.00 per week. My mother 
was the first president of the 19th Century Club in Oak 
Park, Illinois, and was a very active supporter of woman s 
suffrage and of Jane Addams work at Hull House in Chicago. 
She became interested in the labor movement and served on 


Packard: a State Commission to investigate the causes of a mine 
disaster where many miners were killed. 

Baum: What was her maiden name again? 

Packard: Her name was Clara Adelaide Fish. I remember her mother 
well, as a gentle, white-haired grandmother who lived 
with us for a while... I never knew my maternal grand 
father, who was a postal employee, and whose forebears 
went back to pre-Revolutionary days. My mother was 
eligible to membership in the Daughters of the American 
Revolution, but never chose to join because she was out 
of sympathy with their activities. She had two sisters, 
whom we knew as Aunt Ida and Aunty Ellen. 

Mrs. : One reason, I imagine, why your mother worked for woman s 

suffrage was that Aunty Ellen bucked the prejudice against 

women in politics. She had a broken marriage. She 
married a much older man who was a doctor, which got her 
interested in the medical field. After the breakup of 
the marriage she decided to become a doctor and was the 
first woman graduate from a medical school in Chicago. 
She told stories about the early days when young doctors 
couldn t afford to buy all of the things they were supposed 
to have, so they made sugar pills and used a good deal of 
early psychology. 
( Laughter ) 

Packard: After the death of her first husband, Mrs. Pierce, my 
maternal grandmother, moved to Lombard, Illinois, where 


Packard: my father met my mother. 

Baum: What did your father feel about the conflict between his 
father and mother? It sounds like he was loyal to both. 

Packard: Well, he was greatly disturbed by the conflict. He admired 
his mother s work for women s rights, but he adopted his 
father s religion and became a complete fundamentalist, 
which was strange because in his law practice he was a 
very practical man. His arguments were governed by logic 
but in his religious life, he was completely conditioned 
to an acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God. He 
said "blessings" before every meal and the family knelt 
for morning prayers after breakfast without fail. We 
children would take turns reading extracts from the Bible 
and each would offer a prayer. 

Baum: How many were there of you? 

Packard: I had three sisters and a brother. I was in the middle. 
My oldest sister, Stella, bore the brunt of my father s 
religious training with its emphasis on hell-fire and heaven. 
Although she was a very attractive young lady, she never 
married. She had my mother s interest in social work. 
After taking some courses in domestic science at the Armour 
Institute in Chicago, she went to Smith College. She 
worked with Jane Addams in Hull House (Chicago) for some 
time. After graduation she went into social work in New 
York and remained in that field until she died of cancer 
in 1945. 


Packard: My next oldest sister, Laura, was a completely dedicated 
person, possessing some of the intensity of her grandmother. 
She started her college career at Oberlin, but graduated 
from Vassar. While there, she became a socialist, which 
interestingly enough, disturbed my mother until some years 
later, when she herself became a strong supporter and friend 
of Upton Sinclair. Laura married Edward Redman, a Phi 
Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth. They had 
three girls, Esther, Elizabeth, and Barbara, all of whom 
are filling important, but divergent roles in life. 

My youngest sister Esther graduated from Smith College 
and became a very successful social worker in New York 
State, appearing before the state legislature in Albany 
on various occasions in support of social legislation. 
During the early part of the First World War, she married 
Philip Chadbourn, soon after he had returned from an 
assignment with Herbert Hoover in Belgium. He brought 
presents from the Belgium children to President Wilson 
and presented them to him at a formal ceremony. Through 
Esther s associations in New York, she secured an appoint 
ment for Phil as a special representative of the State 
Department in Russia. His assignment was to represent 
German and Austrian interests in Russia until we got into 
the war, when, of course, they had to return. They came 
back through Finland and went to California to live, 
temporarily, in the family home in Pasadena. The stories 


Packard: they had to tell were exciting in the extreme. More about 
that later on. They have three children, Philip born in 
Petrograd, during the first week of the Russian Revolution, 
Jane, born in Pasadena, and Alfred, born in Symrna, at the 
very height of the Greeks exodus from Turkey during the 
Greek-Turkish war. 

John, my brother, graduated from the University of 
Southern California and followed Father into the practice 
of law. I remember two episodes when he was a youngster 
which have always stayed with me. He would sing When I m 
big I ll be a soldier, that s what I will be. Mother 
would pretend to cry and he would laugh. At another time 
when he had done something particularly bad, Mother told 
him to go out in the yard and bring her a switch. He came 
back crying and dragging a baseball bat as long as he was 
tall. Mother just burst out laughing and it was all over. 
John and I were very close, as brothers, throughout his life. 
Although he followed Father into the law he became a socialist, 
in part because of me and in part because of Mother s 
interest. He married Rose Marie Hutcheson, whose friendship 
with the Upton Sinclairs helped John politically in his 
work both as a member of the National Committee of the 
Socialist Party and as an active member of the Democratic 
Party during the New Deal days. In 1936, John was Roosevelt s 
campaign manager in Southern California. John helped 
organize the Civil Liberties Union in Southern California 


Packard: and was very active in the work of the organization throughout 
his life. On two occasions when he had gone to Imperial 
Valley to defend arrested agricultural workers who had 
been on strike, he had to be escorted out of the valley 
by motorcycle police for fear of attack by vigilante 
groups. John and Rose Marie had two children, John Jr., 
and Virginia, each of whom is filling an important role 
in life. 

Packard: This brings me to my own role as the first son. 

Although I recall living in the Holly Court house, most 
of my memories are associated with our home on Lake Street, 
in Oak Park, Illinois, across the street from the Congre 
gational Church, where the Oak Park Post Office now stands. 
I was born on February 22nd, 1884. Oak Park at that time 
was a rural village with dirt streets. We had outside 
privies and kerosene lamps and later substituted elec 
tricity for gas. And I can remember, also, very clearly 
when we had the first telephone installed, and when our 
furnace was replaced by a community heating system which 
piped hot-water into our radiators. 

As I remember it, I enjoyed school as a youngster. But 
I was inclined to break the rules. My first memorable 
offense occurred when I was in the second grade. John 
Tope, my closest friend as a boy, had a seat at one end 
of the front row in school while I sat at the other end. 


Packard: One time when the teacher announced that we would have 

five minutes recess but could not leave our seats I leaned 
forward and called out, "Hello there, jackass." I was 
sent home with a note telling Mother what I had done. On 
another occasion I took a mouse to school with a string 
tied to its tail. When the teacher was not looking I would 
let the mouse run on the floor to frighten the girls in 
the class. Again I was sent home. Kindly Mr. Hatch, 
the principal of the grammar school, whom I remember with 
affection, told my mother that I had given him more 
trouble than any other child, a fact which I can hardly 
understand because I never had any malicious feeling 
and never did anything that I thought was really harmful. 
Or, on reflection, did I? I recall the time when a police 
man appeared at our door charging me with breaking the 
windows in a neighbor s barn. I had to admit that I 
had done it with a slingshot which I had learned to use 
quite accurately. My only memory of a real good spanking 
though, was when the family for some reason was sitting 
on the front row of the balcony in church. I insisted 
on putting my feet on the rail in front with complete 
disregard of my father s orders to put them down. I 
figured, I suppose, that I had him at a disadvantage. 
But I was mistaken. My father picked me up and carried 
me all the way home, where I was vigorously convinced that 
he was boss. 


Packard: When I got old enough I was given responsibility 
for taking care of the furnace which included the very 
dirty job of taking out the ashes. I also learned to care 
for my father s very spirited team of black geldings. 
We had a large lawn which I had to mow and water. Both 
of my parents were very understanding people. I always 
had a dog sometimes three or four at a time. I taught 
a St. Bernard to drive, I had a dog cart for summer and 
a sled with wooden shafts for winter; and also a four- 
wheeled wagon with a large box attached which I built for 
peddling sweet corn which I raised on a vacant lot belong 
ing to Father on the edge of town. 

I was taught how to handle a gun and, in addition 
to having a 22 -rifle, I was free to use my father s 
10-gauge shotgun when I wanted to hunt ducks on the North 
prairie or rabbits and squirrels in the woods. My hunting 
trips provided little food, but that fact never lessened 
the fun of tramping over the prairies and through the woods, 
which were the main rewards. The prairie swamps provided 
good skating in the winter and yielded pussy willows for 
my mother in the spring. These areas are now covered by 
high-rise apartments. I learned to swim in the skunk hole 
in the Des Plaines River, graduating in due time to the 
dangerous sand pit with its deep water and steep sides. 
One time when the spring flood had topped the riverbanks, 
I swam across and back on a dare which in retrospect was 


Packard: very foolhardy. 

On two succeeding summers, following my eighth grade 
year, I organized camping trips to the lake country in 
northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Four boys made 
up the first group and six the next. Each time we built 
a two-wheeled cart using bicycle wheels and a large box 
in which we packed our blankets, tent, cooking utensils, 
and food. We took turns pulling the cart and took two 
days to make the final camping spot on a lake where we 
fished, swam, hunted, and played "fox and hounds". 

The following summer I bought a horse for $50.00, out 
of money I had earned peddling papers and went on a 
600-mile trip through northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and 
into the pine woods of northern Michigan. My companion 
on this trip was Irving Updike, who rode a beautiful gaited 
Kentucky riding horse given to him by his father, a wealthy 
member of the Chicago Grain Exchange. We camped out 
every night and cooked most of our meals. 

My father s association with us children was enriched 
by two practices which remain in my memory as valued 
experiences. One was the Sunday afternoon walks into the 
north prairie where we would collect pussy willows, pick 
wild flowers, or just sit on the grass while my father 
told us Bible stories. He was a wonderful story teller, 
always interpreting Bible stories in words and plots which 
kept us keenly interested. The second practice included 


Packard: the occasional Saturday drive to Salt Creek, Lombard, or 

to Lincoln Park to see the animals. Some summers we would 
take the longer two-day drive to Manteno to visit our 
Dole cousins who lived on a farm. I think the pleasant 
memories of those visits had something to do with my want 
ing to be a farmer. 

On one of these trips we stopped overnight in Joliet, 
where we visited the state prison and got a view of a 
man who had robbed our house one winter when we were in 
California. We children believed that the man would want 
to shoot my father when he got out. At any rate a year 
or two later a strange looking man appeared at the door 
wanting to see Father. Laura and I were the only ones at 
home. We said that Father would be home about six o clock. 
Instead of leaving he wanted to stay. So we invited him 
into the parlor where he proceeded to tell us that he was 
the man who robbed our house. He had just been released 
from prison and wanted to make a courtesy call. 

I went to my room, put shells in a 22-pistol, put 
it in my pocket and went to the station to meet Father. 
I told him what had happened but said nothing about the 
pistol^ which I held in my pocket all cocked and ready for 
action. Our guest explained that he had become a Christian 
in prison and wanted to make restitution for his sins as 
best he could. This, of course, pleased my father, who 
invited him to stay for supper, where he entertained us 


Packard: with stories of his life in prison. And then for three 
years after that every time it snowed he d come around 
to the barn and get a snow shovel and shovel off all our 
walks, put the shovel back in the barn, and walk off and 
never say anything. In the summertime he d sweep the side 
walks occasionally, and then he disappeared and we never 
knew what happened to him. But during that time he was 
back at his old job of washing windows and he would give 
Mother as a reference. 

When I was a child we spent two winters in California 
staying with Uncle Ira in San Diego part of the time and 
with the Wares (my father s cousin) who lived on Orange 
Grove Avenue in Pasadena. I was only a year old on the 
first trip but have very vivid memories of the second trip, 
when I was nine. I loved to accompany my Uncle Ira over 
the dry, brush covered hills of San Diego County, where I 
would look for trapdoor spider nests, while he hunted 
quail. We drove by horse and buggy to La Jolla, Point 
Loma , and Old Town, always carrying a lunch along to be 
eaten at some secluded spot on some beach. The Ware lot 
in Pasadena ran down to the Arroyo Seco where my sister 
Laura and I, with two Ware dogs, built sand dams and waded 
in the water. I once drove from Pasadena to Santa Ana 
in a one horse buckboard with my father and his brother 
Theophilus. It took us two days each way. We camped 
out along a river at night where we heard coyotes barking. 


Packard: The whole stretch of country was completely undeveloped. My 
father s cousin, Edward Ware in Garden Grove, was a pioneer 
walnut grower in Orange County. 

Another winter we spent in Biloxi, Mississippi. There 
I had an experience that affected me for years. The family 
was living in a hotel and I was. down at the beach one day, 
I came back to the hotel and nobody was there the family 
was gone. They had gone out on an afternoon ride in a 
buggy. And I suddenly felt that I was left alone, they d 
left me, abandoned me. And I just made a terrific scene. 
The guests at the hotel tried to comfort me and say my 
parents were coming back, but I didn t believe them. I 
just thought I was abandoned. And when they came back it 
didn t made a parcel of difference. It still had a terrific 
influence on me. And it lasted, oh, for a long time. I 
remember after we got back to Oak Park one day, Father 
said he was going to drive Mother out to Lombard, and so 
I skipped school, came back and hid in the barn. When 
he started out I ran out and caught hold of the back axle 
of the buggy. I was going to hang on there all the way 
to Lombard because I thought they were going to run away 
from me again. 

Baum: How old were you? 

Packard: Well, I was in the first grade in school. I must have 
been six. 

Baum: Did your father usually go somewhere in the winter? 


Packard: Well, yes... he always tried to, yes. 

Baum: To get away from the cold, is that the idea? 

Packard: Yes, yes. But these three big trips are the only ones I 

remember. In the summertime we d always go on vacations, in 
Wisconsin or Michigan at some lake resort. 

Baum: Does this indicate you were fairly well-to-do? 

Packard: Yes, we were fairly well-to-do. My father was a successful 
lawyer. He had the second largest private law library in 
Chicago. He was considered to be an exceptionally good trial 
lawyer. He never took divorce or criminal cases, only civil 
suits. But we were never rich. Our yard in Oak Park must 
have covered an acre and a half or two acres. We had fruit 
trees of all kinds and a large garden. It was a wonderful 
place for us children. The memory of sitting in the branches 
of an apple tree in full bloom and of following the plow to 
pick up angle worms when the hired man was preparing the garden 
for spring planting is still vivid. Father had some carpenters 
build a toboggan slide in the side yard at the beginning of 

winter a thing we enjoyed until we were old enough to go 


I was ten years old when the Chicago World s Fair was 
staged. I was taken to the fair several times. Seeing Sitting 
Bull in person was one of the thrills I remember. But my 
sharpest recollection concerns the loss of the half dollar I 
had been given to spend during the day. I watched a man in 
a diving suit walk around the bottom of a tank of water. He 


Packard: would pick things up from the tank to demonstrate his skill. 

So I threw in my half dollar, fully expecting him to return it. 
But he didn t. And my day was spoiled. 

Although my parents were very free and understanding with 
anything relating to my love for the out of doors, we children 
were not allowed to dance, play cards, or go to the theater and 
the Sabbath Day was observed with strict obedience to the mores 
of the time. There was one exception to these restrictions. 
Whenever Buffalo Bill s show came to Chicago, Father took us 
all and would regale us again with stories of his buffalo 
hunting days. Restrictions were sometimes tempered by reason. 
The prohibition on smoking, for example, was restricted. So 
long as I promised not to smoke tobacco I could smoke cornsilk, 
rattan, or what have you. My first lesson in plant breeding 
resulted, unexpectedly, from my first summer s experience in 
smoking cornsilk cigarettes. That summer I harvested all of 
the cornsilk from my father s prize plot of sweet corn just as 
soon as it appeared. I had it all laid out on newspapers 
on the barn floor to dry when my father came home from the 
office. What I learned in the barn that night I have never 
( Laughter ) 

Baum: You ruined the year s crop? 
Packard: I sure did. 

As a boy I was never much of a reader. J. Fenimore 
Cooper s Indian stories, the Henty novels, Tom Sawyer and 


Packard: Huck Finn, Peck s Bad Boy, the Life of Buffalo Bill, comprised 
my range of books. But not entirely. John Tope and I read 
dime novels, frowned upon by our parents. We read them by the 
light of a candle, in a room we had dug out under the barn which 
we reached through a tunnel. It might be well to add that the 
barn never caught on fire. 

Three incidents relating to gun powder might be worth 
recording. The first resulted from my desire to have small 
shot to throw in the schoolroom. I had unloaded a shotgun 
shell and didn t know what to do with the powder. So I loaded 
a toy cannon, took it to a sand lot, and set it off. We never 
found the cannon, but my eyelashes were burned shut and my face 
was burned and covered with black powder marks. The other 
two experiences were associated with the Fourth of July, which 
was always the big day of the year. One year I poured some 
powder into a large bottle into which I had inserted a string 
to serve as a fuse. The bottle blew up before I could get 
away and a piece of glass was shot into the calf of my leg. 
When I got home I pushed a needle into the hole to see if I 
could locate the glass. I kept mum about this and nothing 
happened. The third episode occurred early on Fourth of July 
morning. In order to waken John Tope, I loaded a cannon I 
had made out of a piece of pipe nailed to a six by six wooden 
block. I put the cannon halfway between the Tope s barn and 
house and after lighting the fuse I ran to the barn. The 
following day we found part of the cannon on the other side of 
the Presbyterian church which was located on the adjoining lot. 


Packard: In view of the present concern over juvenile delinquency 
and the ideological conflict of the Cold War, the contrasting 
character of some of my high school companions is perhaps worth 
recording. Irvine Updike--my companion on the horseback trip, 
ended up in the penitentiary for having conspired with his 
younger brother to murder their parents in order to get their 
anticipated inheritance sooner. Henry Arnold, my closest high 
school friend, became a very successful Congregational minister. 
After graduating from the Yale Divinity School he became pastor 
of an important New England church. 

Another contrast was presented by Bruce Barton and Anna 
Louise Strong. Bruce was the son of the pastor of the First 
Congregational Church where my father was deacon. Anna Louise 
Strong was the daughter of the pastor of the Second Congreg 
ational Church, which my father helped establish. Years later, 
Bruce s advertising agency, with forty acres of floor space 
on Madison Avenue, epitomizes the Far Right. While Anna Louise, 
as a devoted supporter of both Russia and China, now living in 
Peking, epitomizes the Far Left. My first memory of Bruce 
Barton goes back to the time when three of us, John Tope, 
Henry Arnold and I , as I remember it, planned to initiate Bruce 
into the community shortly after he first arrived as a young 
boy. My two companions hid behind the front fence while I 
rang the front doorbell to invite Bruce out. His mother answered 
the door and said that Bruce was not in. This indeed was a 
Tom Sawyer inspired incident. Later on, when in high school, 


Packard: Bruce and I belonged to the Bachelors club, which he organized. 
Our pledge, as I remember it, was never to have anything 
to do with women. The club members rented box seats at a 
high school graduation exercises and appeared in top silk hats 
borrowed from my father--a fact which made it necessary for 
us to sneak out early to save the hats. Anna Louise was a close 
friend of my sister Laura. She was a thorn in my flesh because 
she was usually head of her class while I was near the foot. 
I, as the deacon s son, occupy a position somewhat left of center 
which I define as total democracya position which will be 
explained in some detail later on. 

Baum: There was a lot of intellectual ferment in that little city. 

Packard: Yes, there was. But Oak Park has gone completely conservative, 
as evidenced by its overwhelming support of Goldwater in the 
1964 election. 

My love of the country coupled with my disinterest in any 
profession or urban business led me to take a job as a farm 

hand during the summer vacation following my junior year in 
high school. I rode my bicycle the 120 miles to Tonica, 

Illinois, where I slopped hogs, milked cows, plowed corn, made 
hay, shocked oats and helped in the threshing on a 100-acre 
farm belonging to the Thompsons. It took me a day and a half 
to make the trip and I was completely exhausted. My best per 
formance on the farm was at the threshing dinners where each 
farmer s wife tried to outdo the other. After one of these 
dinners I had to take time off and lie in the shade of a tree 


Packard: before I could go back to work. I enjoyed everything I did 

except helping Mrs. Thompson do the washing on Monday mornings 
and occasionally churning the butter. 

Fourth of July was a great day in Tonica, as it was every 
where when I was a boy. I had a thirty-eight caliber pistol 
and two boxes of blank shells, which made me the noisiest 
thing in town, much to the disgust of many. I contended in 
the greased pole climb, the obstacle race, and the greased 
pig contest. But the big event was the 100-yard dash on the 
main street of town in the evening. The main street had been 
harrowed to fill up the ruts and about twenty runners, including 
two baseball players, lined up for the race. Since I was a 
star runner in the Oak Park High School, I was able to win the 
race and the $10.00 prizean incident which was used to 
disqualify me temporarily for competition in the Big Ten Meet 
at Chicago University when I was a freshman at college. 

The farm work apparently did me some good because I rode 
my bicycle back in one day without too much effort. When I 
got home my sister Stella was home from Smith College, and said 
that there was an agricultural college at Amherst where I 
could learn to be a scientific farmer. What that meant none 
of us knew exactly, but the idea took hold and I decided to 
become a farmer with the understanding with my father that he 
would buy me a farm when I got ready. I wrote to the agric 
ultural colleges in various states and decided that the Iowa 
State College at Ames suited me best. The following summer I 

Walter Packard, Graduation - Ames College 


Packard: spent another vacation on an Illinois farm owned by a Swedish 
couple who believed in making the hired hand earn his way. 
One thing that used to gripe me was that I had to use the 
walking plow even when the riding cultivator was not in use. 
After pitching manure on and off a wagon, making hay, and 
cutting weeds with a scythe in the pig pen and along the 
fences, I started pitching bundles at threshing time. Each of 
these operations used my back muscles and one morning my back 
began to pain me so much that I had to stop work and go to bed. 
It was some days before I could get up to take the train 
home. My back bothered me for months but not until many years 
later did an osteopath find that a vertebrate was out of place, 
not because of the farm work, but because of a practice we had in 
high school of coming up behind some one and pounding him 
as hard as possible between the shoulders as an expression 
of comradeship. 


Iowa State College, Ames - 1903-1907 

On graduating from high school in 1903, I went to Ames. 
I had the idea that it would be a good thing to work my way 
through college, so I got a job tending furnace for my room 
in Music Hall and started to accumulate cash by working in 
the experimental seed beds on the college farm. The pay of 
ten cents an hour soon discouraged me. I then concentrated 


Packard: on military drill. Because I had been a cadet in high school, 
I entered the Ames training as a sergeant, although I did not 
know just what a sergeant was supposed to do or where he should 
stand in the line. On special days, when we had sham battles, 
I found that I could get wounded behind some tree and sneak 
home until General Lincoln had roll called at the beginning 
and end of all drills. In spite of my rather bad behavior, 
I became a second lieutenant at the end of my first semester. 
But the track season started in the spring and much to the 
disgust of the brusque but kindly General Lincoln I made the 
track team and was excused from anymore drill for the rest 
of my stay in college. 

For some reason or other I was selected as one of several 
students to remain at college during the Christmas vacation 
to teach corn judging to Iowa farmers attending the winter 
short course. I am now quite ashamed of one thing I did 
that winter but I think I should confess. There was one 
young farmer who did a great deal of bragging about how 
tough he was. He boasted of having ten scars on his body. 
So one evening, when he was on his way to a meeting, a group 
of six regular students kidnapped him. We took him to the 
old "pest house" off the campus, built a fire in the stove, 
pretended to be heating a branding iron, and later had him 
undress to show his scars. In due time, he was laid forcibly 
on his back on the bed by three members of the Ames football 
squad and a large A was harmlessly tattooed on his stomach 


Packard: with an icicle. He screamed with pain but when it was all over, 
he wanted to join in other similar escapades which were not 
carried out. 

^hen the short course was over and the prize of $1,000 
was presented to Asa Turner as the man who had raised the best 
ten ears of corn in Iowa, I was up on the platform asking 
him for a job as a hired hand. I was taken on, so spent my 
first summer vacation from college, feeding pigs, milking 
cows, plowing corn, and doing odd chores about the place. 
He specialized in Reed s yellow dent corn, Duroc Jersey hogs 
and short horn cattle. My salary was $25.00 per month plus 
board and room. \sa Turner was a grand old man, a Civil War 
veteran who had become "sanctified" and therefore could not 
sin. We drove to town (Maxwell) in a buggy on Sundays to 
attend Sunday school and church and to meet the neighbors. 

Before returning to college I attended the St. Louis 
Fair where I spent so much that I had to walk the last twelve 
miles. I considered the conductor to be unnecessarily harsh 
in putting me off, but I enjoyed the walk. 

At the beginning of my sophomore year I joined a small 
group of my 07 classmates intent on preventing the freshman 
from painting 08 "s on various likely places. One night, 
finding a large 08 on the Northwestern Railway bridge going 
into Ames, we quietly entered the rooming house of the president 
of the freshman class, got him out of bed and into some 
clothes and then made him walk to the bridge with a brush and a 
bucket of paint to daub out the "08. 


England - 1905 

Baum: I ve got a note here, a little note from Who s vtfho, "Special 
Agent, Packard and Neice, attorneys, London 1905." 

Packard: Yes, yes. That was when I was a sophomore at college. I had 
heard of some students who had worked their way to Europe for 
a summer vacation by tending cattle on a cattle boat. So I 
pursued the matter and had a tentative arrangement to go over 
to England with cattle and to return from Normandy with horses, 
when I got a letter from my father saying that I could go to 
London for a Catholic priest on a rather strange mission. 
I was to carry the manuscript of a book which was an expose" 
of the parochial school system in Chicago, written by Father 
Crowley, to London to have it copyrighted in England, Scotland, 
Ireland, and Wales. Father Crowley wanted a non-Catholic 
messenger that he could trust. So, instead of doing what I 
had planned to do, I served as my father s legal agent in carry 
ing out the assignment. 

Baum: This was an anti-Catholic document? 

Packard: Yes, it certainly was. Father Crowley, incidentally, was 

excommunicated for his sincere effort to stamp out evils which 
he saw in the Chicago set-up. After getting the manuscript 
properly registered at the British Museum, I tried to find a 
publisher. None of the prominent publishers would take the book. 
One of them told me that his employees would strike if he took 
the contract. I finally got a small operator who set his own 


Packard: type to agree to publish it. But the contract was never signed 
because Father Crowley was able to get the book published in 
the United States. It was widely advertised but never made 
much of an impression. Father Crowley, however, suffered 
severely. After his excommunication he married and tried to 
lead a normal life. But whenever he got a job, he would be 
followed by the Church. He finally went to California where 
my close friend Richard Perkin?,then secretary of the Y.M.C.A. 
in San Francisco, helped him get started. 

Baum: So you did have a little experience in Europe? 

Packard: Yes, indeed. I had a very interesting time. On the way over, 
on the White Star liner Olympic, the ship went through a 
"hurricane with mountainous seas", as recorded by the log. 
It was impossible to go anywhere on shipboard without hanging 
onto a rope. Three people were killed in accidents during 
the storm. Their bodies were buried at sea early one morning 
as we sailed along the coast of Ireland. One notable event 
was the fact that the ship carried one of the first radios which 
permitted the purser to publish a newspaper each morning, 
carrying news from the Russian -Japanese War. The ship lay 
at anchor for two days in the Liverpool harbor swinging back 
and forth with the tide in a fog that was so dense you could 
hardly see across the deck. I had read some of Dickens on 
the way over and was well prepared for the fog that engulfed 
London all the time I was there. I visited a farmers market 
in London where stall-holders, with horse or donkey drawn 


Packard: carts brought their produce for sale. I spent considerable time 
in visiting the Tate Gallery and the National Art Gallery 
and, of course, visited the British Museum. I saw London, through 
the fog, from the top of double-decker, horse-drawn busses 
which I would take to the end of the line and back again. 

Extra-Curricular Activities at Ames 

Packard: Now to get back to my college days. Although I had devel 
oped a dislike for fraternities, due to the fact that a frat 
ernity in high school was made up of students that I did not 
like- -they were just not my kind--I joined the Beta Theta Pi 
fraternity during my sophomore year because Emma Leonard, a 
classmate who later became my wife had joined the Pi Phis, and 
I felt that I had to succumb to maintain my competitive position. 
From then on "she wore my Beta pin". I later became a member 
of Alpha Xeta, an honorary Agricultural fraternity. 

I was not what you would call an athlete but I did pretty 
well as a runner. I won my letter as a freshman and was the 
fastest quartermiler on the relay team that broke the state 
record and competed in the Big Ten meet in Chicago. During 
my junior and senior years I ran the mile and the two mile, 
again winning my college letter. I served as the manager of 
the football team during my junior and senior year. I was 
also on the college debating team and won my gold A watch fob 
in a debate with Grinnell in which Grinnell won by a unanimous 


Packard: decision! During my senior year I was chosen to be a member 
of what was called the "Cardinal Guild" which got its name 
from the fact that the college colors were cardinal and gold. 
It was an honorary group whose rather moral duty was to promote 
adult behavior. It had an aura of righteousness about it, that 
somehow did not appeal to me, but I felt highly honored in 
being selected. 

I became interested in the Y.M.C.A. when I was a freshman. 
I can still remember how important I felt when I got a letter 
from Jack Prall, the employed secretary of the college Y.M.C.A., 
asking me to teach a Bible study class the following year. I 
accepted and, by the end of my sohpomore year I was elected 
President of the college Y which was credited, rightly or 
wrongly, with having more Bible study classes than any other 
college. It was quite logical, therefore, for me to attend the 

Y.M.C.A. summer school at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. 


Baum: This was the summer after the one you spent on Turner s ranch? 

Packard: Yes. This was after my sophomore year. I came under the in 
fluence of men like John R. Mott, Robert Spear, and other 
inspirational leaders who were promoting what was called the 
"Student Volunteer Movement." Today it might be called the 
Peace Corps. "Why," they said to me, "can t you become an 
agricultural missionary? You are a Christian and as such you 
must believe that spreading the Gospel is the greatest of 
callings." I could not counter this logic so I became a 
"student volunteer" at the end of my sophomore year. 


On a Surveying Crew in Idaho - Summer, 1906 

Packard: I spent the summer following my junior year as rod man 

on a survey crew in Idaho. A good deal of excitement had been 
developed over the opportunities for apple production on newly 
established irrigation projects in the Northwest. My father 
was attorney for a Chicago bonding firm that was financing 
the Canyon Canal Project on the Payette River, which explains 
my job. I first weftt to the big exposition in Portland, Oregon, 
where all the wonders of the Pacific Northwest were displayed. 
I returned to Boise where I met my father who was staying at 
a swank hotel. For some reason, he must have felt that staying 
at a cheap hotel would improve my character. At any rate, we 
secured a room in a little hotel in the lower part of town. 
Two things happened that had nothing to do with character 
building. I had to change rooms three times the first night 
because of bed bugs, which were new to me. And chamber maids 
were so solicitous that I had a hard time keeping them out of 
my room. Some weeks later I picked up a Boise paper and saw 
a headline "Millions of Lives Lost". It was an account of the 
burning of my hotel. 

I spent the rest of the summer in survey camps along the 
Payette River--an experience which ended with a case of dysentery 
from drinking unboiled water. A construction crew with mules 
and servers occupied the same camp. A mule skinner offered me 
$5.00 if I would lean over at a distance of about ten feet 


Packard: and let him take one crack at my behind with his black snake 
( a whip for mules ). I wasn t that badly in need of money. 
The project involved the construction of a dam and miles of 
wooden flume, in addition to open ditch work, so I got a good 
start in the field of irrigation engineering. I took an 
interest in the land too. I filed on a -,40-acre piece of 
rather rough land near the lower end of the project with the 
idea that I might at some time plant an apple orchard. How 
this fitted into my plans for becoming an agricultural missionary 
is a mystery. Perhaps it was because I was completely fascinated 
with the sagebrush country. 

Y. M. C. A. Secretary at Stanford University - 1907-1908 

Packard: Back in college in the Fall, I made a very wise decision 
which had much to do with my future career. I accepted a 
job as the part-time secretary of the college Y.M.C.A. at 
Stanford University. It would give me a chance to get more 
work in the social sciences than I had been able to get at 
Ames. But before going to Stanford I attended a Y.M.C.A. 
summer school at Lake Geneva, where I had a first course in 
psychology. What I learned threw me for a loop. It explained 
what I had thought of as conversion in terms of psychology 
rather than a deep religious experience. 

So when I began my work at Stanford I was thoroughly 
confused. My confusion, moreover, was compounded by the fact 
that I, as the paid secretary, had to conduct a Bible study 


Packard: class in a club house in Mayfield because the group was consid 
ered to be too tough for any of the students... I found them 
all to be socialists. Why they had asked for a Bible study 
class is a question I can t answer. At any rate, we had 
Bible study for about fifteen minutes and then discussed 
socialism til midnight. By Christmas I was a socialist and 
none of them was a Christian. ( Laughter ) So I sent in my 
resignation to take effect at the close of the year. 

It was necessary for me to attend the winter Y.M.C.A. 
meeting at Pacific Grove. My back-sliding had become a general 
concern. One kindly ond gentle old Methodist minister asked 
me to go to his room for a personal conference, which I did. 
But what a session! The dear fellow prayed for my lost soul 
and explained in the prayer how his message was being carried 
by the Holy Ghost, through Christ to God. By that time, however, 
I was quite immune. I got through the year without collecting 
all of my salary of $800.00. 

Back to Idaho to Prove a Land Claim - Summer 1908 

Packard: When school was out I went to Idaho to prove up on the 40 
acre Carey claim I had filed on when I spent the summer of 
my junior year at Ames in surveying on an irrigation project. 

Baum: I believe your father had some experience in irrigation districts? 

Packard: Yes, my father was the attorney for one of the bonding companies 
in Chicago that handled irrigation bonds during the early period 


Packard: of irrigation development at the beginning of the twentieth 

Baum: Do you remember the name of the company? 

Packard: Trowbridge and Niver. They financed irrigation development in 
Idaho and Colorado. Little was known then about the problems 
of irrigation, particularly about the problem of financing. 
As a result, before many years, every major bonding house in 
the United States that handled irrigation bonds went into 
bankruptcy because the settlers were not able to meet the 
payments that were required. Settlers going onto raw desert 
land had to clear it, level it, and prepare the surface for 
irrigation. All this took time, hard work, and money. Very 
few of the first generation settlers were able to meet their own 
personal costs, to say nothing of paying for water. Usually 
in the West at that time it took from two to four succeeding 
families, each contributing something, before the final family 
could succeed. This was true of the projects the Trowbridge 
and Niver Company was financing. It was because of these 
facts that the Bureau of Reclamation had been established by 
Theodore Roosevelt in 1902. The Bureau was empowered to grant 
long term payments with no interest charge. 

Baum: Were these ones that went bankrupt privately settled ones, 
not irrigation districts? 

Packard: Yes, they were private irrigation companies that tried to 
develop water for sale at a profit. Developing irrigation 
projects was a very popular thing at that time. 


Packard: The Trowbridge and Niver firm put on a terrific exhibit 
in Chicago, in one of the big show places, having exhibits 
of carloads of apples and other products from small irrigation 
projects that had already been developed. There was a lot of 
excitement about it at that time. 

Baum: Oh, I ve read some of the pamphlets. They have a lot of them 
in Bancroft Library. 

Packard: Yes. A lot of excitement about the possibilities of devel 
oping land in the West. But they found there was not enough 
money in it, not enough profit. The farmers went broke without 
enough capital. 

Baum: Did your father have any opinions about the validity of any 
of these enterprises? 

Packard: To my father s credit, he turned down the bonds in the first 
project he investigated in Idaho, a project on the Payette 
River, called the Canyon Canal project. And, as a result of 
that, he was dismissed by the company and within three or four 
years after that the company went into bankruptcy. 

My brother, John, then in high school in Oak Park, joined 
me in Idaho and remained with me for a year. He and my father 
never understood each other. John rejected parental discipline 
and it seemed best all around that he should be with me for a 
while, a decision in which I heartily agreed. John, of course, 
looked upon me as a Y.M.C.A. man and was, therefore, on his 
guard. John landed at Payette with an old Springfield forty- 
five caliber rifle which seemed appropriate for anyone entering 


Packard: the great wild West. His vision of our Association was shocked, 
first, by the fact that I suggested we play a game of pool at 
the hotel while we waited for a train to Emtnett, which was 
to be our headquarters. The second shock came the first Sunday 
morning when I suggested that we go for a swim. On seeing 
John s surprise, I helped the situation by saying we would take 
a morning bath which he had been accustomed to at home. At 
any rate, we hit it off in great shape. We built a one room 
board and bat shack, (without the bats) bought two chairs, 
built a rough board table in one corner, made our two beds on 
the floor and cooked our meals on a kerosene stove and spent 
our days grubbing sagebrush. I hired a neighbor with horses 
and a Fresno scraper to level enough land to conform to the 
government requirement for proving up on a Carey Act claim. 
We soon arranged to get two meals a day at our neighbors. 
Mr. Hull was a tall bearded man who had come West in a covered 
wagon. He could hit a target with his frontiersman s pistol 
much more accurately than we could with John s Springfield 

The Hulls had a daughter named Millie who was about 
John s age, who took quite a liking to him--a feeling which 
was not reciprocated by John. One evening at a party at the 
school house a game was started where the couple would stand 
up facing each other. When the man in charge named something 
that the individual liked, that individual was supposed to take 
a step forward. If the item mentioned was disliked the individual 


Packard: was supposed to step back. The climax would come when the 

couple were near enough to kiss. John was caught in this game 
with Millie. The first item mentioned was sugar. Millie 
immediately took a demure step forward while John turned around 
and took as long a step as he could in the opposite direction. 
The two never met and John had to pay a penalty. 

We all went to Emmett for the Fourth of July celebration. 
The cattle men from the surrounding country put on a wild rodeo. 
The lumbermen, who had just reached town with a log drive down 
the river, put on log sawing contests and log rolling in the 
mill pond, while the miners from the Thunder Mountain gold 
fields had rock drilling contests. Nothing could have been 
more exciting for John and me. 

Our means of transportation was a donkey which we bought 
for $10.00 in Emmett... The front position was the favorite 
because in going uphill the front rider could slide back and 
push the hind rider off the end. ( Laughter ) Unfortunately, 
the day we bought the burro and were riding him out of town 
two members of the Trowbridge Bonding firm were in town and 
recognized us . One of the men was a deacon in the Oak Park 
church. He wore a Prince Albert coat and top hat at home and 
had a full set of whiskers patterned after Charles Evans Hughes. 
It seemed quite proper for us to invite them out to dinner on 
our Carey Act claim. I had no idea they would accept. But 
the next day, just before noon, when John and I were grubbing 
sagebrush I saw some dust down the road and a team of horses 


Packard: approaching. I sent John to the shack to put it in order and 
went out to meet our guests. They were first impressed by the 
rattlesnake and badger skins that were nailed to the outside 
of the shack. John was pushing a ring of dust and dirt down 
a knot hole in the floor with a whisk broom when they entered. 
Thinking that the occasion called for something special I 
decided on French fried potatoes and flapjacks. I had never 
cooked French fries and, therefore, made the mistake of putting 
the potatoes in the pan before the bacon juice was hot enough. 
Result total failure. But I was an expert with flapjacks 
and cooked a pile about a foot high and invited our guests 
to help themselves. Everything was all right until the log 
cabin maple syrup can was passed. To our astonishment out 
came a flood of drowned red ants. The sad part of this incident 
was the wild stories our guests carried back to Oak Park. 

Berkeley: Graduate Work in Soils & Irrigation Engineering 

Packard: John and I returned to Berkeley where I went to college and 
John went to high school. I had the same ideas that I had 
when I entered college at Ames. I wanted to earn my way if 
I could, although it was not necessary. John and I waited 
table at a college boarding house for our room and board and 
I worked for the Geological Survey in running alkali tests 
on water samples, for cash money. 

I registered as a graduate student specializing in soils 


Packard: and irrigation engineering. I was fortunate, indeed, to have 

my soil work under Dr. Eugene Hilgard, the dean of soil scientists 
and a very wonderful character. I was equally fortunate in 
having my irrigation engineering under Prof. B. A. Etcheverry 
and my irrigation law under Prof. A. E. Chandler. All of these 
professors remained as my personal friends and mentors during 
their lifetimes. 

I recall an incident involving Dr. Hilgard which I thought 
was the height of absurdity. He was to be initiated into the 
Alpha Zeta fraternity as an honored member. rfhen the under 
graduate student in charge of the ceremony went through the 
ritual he read in solemn tones "Now that you have entered our 
wonderful fraternal brotherhood, your future will be bright," 
or something like that. Dr. Hilgard never batted an eye 
although I came near laughing. 

When I entered Cal, I was acutely conscious of the serious 
ness of my work. I realized that my living would depend upon 
what I knew- -a viewpoint which had not impressed me when I 
was a student volunteer. As a result I applied myself as I 
never had before. As a result I got top grades which I had 
never done before. I represented what I have come to know 
as slow starters. I had had no compelling thirst for knowledge 
during my school and college days. Another factor was, I 
think, that questions of science, economics, and philosophy 
were never raised in conversation at home. This slowness 
in becoming aware of reality applied to my work at Stanford 
where my marks in the social sciences were abominable. But 


Packard: eleven years later when I was taking graduate work in economics 
at Harvard, I received top grades and an invitation to join 
the faculty. 

The point I want to make is that slow starters who have 
a hard time getting into college these days are not necessarily 
low I.Q. s who must be relegated to inferior positions. They 
may have qualities which are not accurately measured by academic 
standards at the high school age. 

I was graduated from Cal in 1909 with the degree of 
Master of Science. 

Irrigation Investigation - 1909 

Packard: My first job out of college was with the Irrigation Investig 
ation office of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, gathering 
irrigation data in the Upper San Joaquin Valley for the 1910 
Irrigation Census. The territory I covered included Kings and 
Tulare counties and part of Kern County. I had to get as 
complete a record as possible from every irrigation project 
in the area. Large operators were just beginning to build 
levees in the Tulare Lake area. Artesian wells were running 
freely on many of the large cattle raising properties, with 
no thought of any possible shortage of water. On one trip 
I remember driving two miles or more through a lake of water 
where I kept to the center of the road by keeping halfway between 
the tops of the fence posts on either side... On one occasion 


Packard: I went with the county engineer of Tulare county when I measured 
the division of water between the Kawea and St. Johns Rivers-- 
a division set by the courts after a suit which cost $500,000.00. 
As I recall, the court order divided the water down to half 
a second foot. But when the county engineer made the actual 
division he determined the flow by throwing a stick into the 
stream and recorded the time it took to go 100 feet which had 
been paced off on the river bank. The cross section was made 
by wading across the stream with a wooden yard stick, recording 
the depth of water at ten foot intervals. Watching from the 
bank I was quite certain that a mistake of a foot was made 
in two readings. But the result appeared to be satisfactory, 
because I heard of no complaints from farmers. 

Years later, in various capacities, I was involved in the 
efforts to conserve water and to get a new supply from the 
Sacramento River. 

Baum: Frank Adams worked on that census, didn t he? 

Packard: I worked with Frank all the way through, over the years, but 
in that particular case I was working for Cohen, who was in 
charge of the census survey. I want to pay tribute to Frank 
Adams whose sincerity of purpose and loyalty I have always 
greatly admired. Although my brand of democracy often irritated 
him, he never failed to come to my defense when I needed a friend. 


Marriage to Emma Lou Leonard, December 20, 1909 
Packard: After completing my irrigation census work, I returned 

to Iowa for my marriage to Emma Leonard, a classmate at Ames. 
It was love at first sight with me. Emmy Lou, as she was called 
at college, was very active in class activities and always 
ready to take part in college doings. She was born on a farm 
near Waukee , Iowa, and had come to Ames to take a domestic 
science course. We hit it off as good friends from the start. 
Her father, Henry Lee Leonard, (known affectionately in his 
home town in Vermont as Hell Let Loose) was a pioneer settler 
who led the farmers in the area in tile draining the land, 
selecting seed corn, and in feeding cattle from the range 
country for shipment to the Chicago market. Once when he was 
asked to submit a paper at a farmers meeting at Ames he began 
by saying, "If you want good corn you don t plant popcorn, and 
if you want good cattle you don t use popcorn bulls." He 
was an early subscriber to Wallace s Farmer and the Rural New 
Yorker. He took the Chicago Tribune to keep abreast of the 
livestock market. He was a member of the Populist party, which 
was the radical party of his time. In order to get better 
credit terms for farmers he established a bank in Waukee, 
where he served as president until his death in 1912. Emma s 
mother was one of the kindliest persons I have known. She had 
been a student at Knox College, Illinois, and wanted all of 
her children to have an education. She raised eight children, 
all of whom followed her example by joining the local Christian 


Packard: church. 

Emma was not only active in college life, but was a top 
student. She played on the college women s basketball team 
and played the piano at all Y.M. and Y.W.C.A. meetings. When 
I went to Stanford she remained at Ames, serving as assistant 
college librarian. The following year she served as a Y.W.C.A. 
social worker in the South Carolina mill village of Greer, 
where she was known as "Miss Emmer" . The Y work was financed 
by Anne Morgan, who was keenly interested in efforts to improve 
the living standard of the mill workers. The psychology which 
Emma encountered was dominated by the idea that work and going 
to church were the two rightful activities of any worker. 
Play was somehow associated with sin and indolence. The twelve 
hour day was in force and although child labor was prohibited 
by law, children would be allowed to help their parents in the 
mill work. I had my first contact with the red soil hills 
of the Piedmont country when I visited Emma during the Christmas 
vacation in 1908, going from Berkeley to Greer, by train, of 

We were married in Waukee , Iowa, on December 20, 1909. 
My mother and brother came to the wedding which was conducted 
by Dr. Orange Howard Cessna, professor of psychology and the 
college chaplain at Ames. Immediately following the wedding 
Emma and I took the train for Des Moines, where we transfered 
to a pullman car for the trip to Kansas City, where we connected 


Packard: with the through Santa Fe train for the Grand Canyon, Los 
Angeles, and our new home in El Centre, the county seat of 
Imperial Valley where I was to serve as a representative of the 
College of Agriculture of the University of California for 
seven interesting years. 

Walter Packard family 
Berkeley - 1917. 

Walter Packard and Carl McQuiston 
Palm Springs - 1916. 

Packard s and the Veihmeyers 
Berkeley - 1917. 

i .-.if 


IMPERIAL VALLEY, 1909 - 1917 
Living Conditions in El Centro 

Baum: Would you explain, now, what you were doing in Imperial Valley? 

Packard: I went to Imperial Valley, as a representative of the University 
of California, to gather facts on which the College of Agric 
ulture could decide whether or not they should establish an 
experiment farm in the Valley. The Valley people had made 
a request for such farm through the State Legislature, which 
had appropriated $6,000.00 to cover the cost of an investigation 
of the need. I was selected for the job by Edward J. Wickson, 
then Dean of the College of Agriculture and editor of the 
Pacific Rural Press , the leading agricultural journal of the 
state. Dr. J. Eliot Coit, a University of California horti- 
culturalist with wide experience in the Southwest, was my 
immediate supervisor. 

Emma and I arrived in El Centro after spending Christmas 
day on a honeymoon trip to the Grand Canyon, arriving in 
El Centro just in time to make us eligible for membership 
in the Imperial Valley Pioneers. I was receiving the munifi 
cent salary of $100.00 per month with no allowance for living 
expenses . 

Baum: You only had $100.00 per month to start with there? 

Packard: Yes. But that was not as bad as it now sounds. We could get 
a four course dinner at the Oregon hotel the best hotel in 


Packard: the Valley--for fifty cents. After such a splurge we could 
spend a pleasant evening at an outdoor movie for 15 cents. 
I can remember the thrill we had when we moved into the new 
house on the Experiment Farm two years later, where we paid 
no rent and my salary was raised to $1,800.00." We started 
housekeeping in one room which formed the front half of a wooden 
shack for which we paid $15.00 per month. After a month of 
very primitive living we moved to a house across the street 
which we got for $25.00 per month. It had a bath, kitchen, 
very small living room, a dining porch, and two bedrooms, 
one of which we rented to a real estate agent. The yard 
was bare but was given a strange character by the fact that 
the gravel walk leading to the front sidewalk was lined, on 
both sides, with beer bottles stuck into the ground upside 
down. The house had no insulation and became an oven when 
the hot weather started. On particularly hot days Emma would 
run water into the bath tub, put a pillow in to lean on, and 
spend the afternoon reading. 

The heat, at times, seemed unbearable. Hanging wet 
burlap over open doors and windows helped some by cooling 
the air a bit, but the practice also increased the humidity 
which tended to make the heat more unbearable. Soaking sheets 
and placing them on the bed with an electric fan blowing on 
the bed helped to cool the mattress. 

This practice reminds me of an incident which happened 
when Foster Campbell, an Ames classmate, and his wife spent 


Packard: a day with us in Tent City on the Coronado sand strip in San 

Diego. Foster had a very sensitive skin, but paid no attention 
to the danger of sunburn. He would go in and out of the water, 
lying in the bright sun between dips. He and I drove back to 
the Valley that night. The next morning he began to develop 
water blisters as he perspired in the heat. I had him lie 
naked on a wet sheet with a wet sheet over him and let the 
fan cool him off. In retrospect, I don t know why he didn t 
die of pneumonia. 

Because of the heat many of the wives would leave the 
Valley with the children when school closed in June, and would 
stay out of the heat until school opened in the fall. I 
remember attending a party during the first winter I was there 
when all of the women vowed they would not abandon the men 
during the next summer. A small cyclone occurred about the 
middle of June and the electric current was cut off all over 
the Valley. Emma had already left, so I had dinner that night 
in a cafe lighted by a lamp and with no fans running. Later 
on I saw the evening train pulling out for Los Angeles with every 
reservation taken by the women who had vowed to stay. ( Laughter ) 

Many farm families lived in tent houses with screened 
open sides and covered by a second roof, often a thatched roof 
made of arrow weeds supported by a light frame. The space 
between the roof created an air current while the top roof 
prevented the sun from shining directly on the tent. The 
tents were usually placed on top of a wooden frame, three or 


Packard: four feet high with board floors. Some of these tent houses 
were quite elaborate affairs. The general plan permitted 
many modified designs. 

Baum: But you didn t ever have to live quite that primitively, did 

Packard: No, we never had to live in a tent house. But for three or 

four months while the house was being built on the Experiment 
Farm, we lived in a one room shack next to a ditch bank with 
no running water or inside toilet facilities and, of course, 
no electric lights and consequently no fans. The personally 
disturbing character of this environment was demonstrated when 
a fly flew into a lemon pie which Emma had just made and was 
carrying to the table. The pie ended on the ditch bank and 
frustrated tears flowed for quite a while. 

Since we could find no good houses for rent in El Centre, 
we decided to build a house of our own. It was a two bedroom 
redwood house modeled after the design of a house we had seen 
in Pasadena. It cost $1,800.000, and was located on a lot 
costing $100.00, at the corner of Sixth and Holt. I managed 
to supervise construction while Emma was spending the summer 
and fall with my father and mother in Pasadena. When Emma 
returned with Clara, who was born in the Pasadena hospital on 
November 2, 1910, we moved into the new home and celebrated 
Christmas with a greasewood shrub for a Christmas tree and with 
my gifted artist cousin, Bertha Heise, as our guest. 

Emmy Lou, our second daughter, joined us three and a 


Packard: half years later. She was born on the Experiment Farm on 
April 15, 1914. 

The dust storms in those early days were almost as bad as 
the heat. They would blow for three or four days at a time 
during the spring and would not only cover everything with 
dust, but would create an electric force that would put everyone 
on edge. 

Mrs. : I remember in one of these storms I had some of my scalloped 

wedding doilies on the dining room table. When I picked them 

up after the storm, the pattern of the doilies with all the 
scallops remained as a dust pattern on the table. I still have 
the picture I took of that work of art. The dust sifted into 
linen closets and drawers. After a storm I d have to shake, 
dust or wash everything in the house. The dust was like flour, 
you just couldn t keep it out. 

Packard: Dust remained a source of irritation during our seven years 
in the Valley. 

Early Local Politics 

Packard: On arriving in El Centre, I was given office space by 
Mr. Medhurst who was editor of the Free Lance, a newspaper 
which I assumed was owned by the Southern Pacific. Medhurst 
was an old employee of the Southern Pacific and a very colorful 
character. The Free Lance was in competition with the Imperial 
Valley Press, whose editor, Captain Kelley was one of the first 
State Foresters in California. He was an interesting character 


Packard: who always wore a fancy vest about which Medhurst often edit- 
oralized. Captain Kelley, among other things, was a famous 
pistol shot. He was famous also for having won a bet with the 
original William Randolph Hearst by capturing a grizzly bear 
alive in a trap he devised in the Sierras. The bear occupied 
a cage in the San Francisco zoo for many years. 

My association with Medhurst gave me a chance to get some 
interesting facts regarding the earlier history of the Valley. 
There was a lively contest between the towns of Imperial and 
El Centre for the county seat of Imperial County. Mr. W. F. Holt, 
who established Holtville, on the east side of the Valley, 
wanted to build a branch line from Holtville to the main track 
of the Southern Pacific. He first asked to have a right of 
way into the city of Imperial, which had already been established, 
but those who were in charge of the development of the city 
of Imperial either refused or were charging too much. So 
Mr. Holt established a new town of his own, which was called 
El Centre. This, of course, led to a very active fight between 
the two towns . 

A crucial decision affecting this fight was made when 
Imperial County was created by separating it from San Diego 
County. There was a meeting of the supervisors in San Diego 
and representatives from Imperial Valley had to attend this 
meeting to put up their claims regarding the boundaries of the 
supervisorial districts. It happened that the line that had 
been drawn by the Imperial people was just halfway between 


Packard: El Centro and Imperial. But Mr. Holt found that the supervisor 
of San Diego County, who would carry over and be the only 
already elected supervisor of the new county, owned a farm 
just on the Imperial side of this division line. So at the 
meeting in San Diego, Mr. Holt said that he was very much inter 
ested in getting land north of Holtville, because Holtville 
was his town and he wanted to extend its influence. He would 
be willing, he said, to give them half a mile of land between 
El Centro and Imperial in exchange for the land north of Holtville. 
So, they all agreed and that was fine. It was not until they 
got halfway back to Imperial that the Imperial people realized 
that Holt had taken over their supervisor. ( Laughter ). 
Holt, thus, controlled the only already elected supervisor, 
who was a Holt man, and who from then on represented the Imperial 
supervisorial district. Mr. Holt, who was a devout church man, 
said to me one time he had always told his men never to do 
anything that was dishonest. "But," he added, "they certainly 
used a lot of money." 
Baum: Did you say that Holt was a Southern Pacific employee and so 

was Medhurst? 

Packard: Medhurst had been a station agent with the Southern Pacific. 
But Holt was a capitalist and a banker living in Redlands. 
He was working with rather than for, the Southern Pacific. 
His standing was indicated by the fact that he had a private 
pullman car which often stood for days on the El Centro or 
Holtville siding. 


Baum: I suppose the Southern Pacific was trying to build up farming 

there to. . . 
Packard: Oh yes. The Southern Pacific was involved very deeply in 

Valley affairs, politically and otherwise. When the Colorado 
River broke through in 1906 and cut two new river channels 
through the Valley and into the Salton Sea, the Southern 
Pacific Company had to relocate their main line to keep above 
the rising water. The break was finally closed by a titanic 
engineering effort in which the Southern Pacific Company 
played an important role, by running trains of flat cars loaded 
with large rocks into the new channel when the water began 
to recede. This directed the water down the old channel to 
the Gulf of California. 

I am indebted to Medhurst for my first contact with the 
Colorado River problem. He asked me to report on what was 
happening below the border during an unusually high flood 
stage of the river. There was constant fear in the Valley 
that the river would again leave its banks and establish a 
new channel leading north into the Salton Sea. A group of 
about fifteen people made the trip. We were the guests of the 
California Mexican Ranch, whose manager Mr. Walter Bowker 
directed the investigation. We went by car across open desert 
country to a point where we could be transferred to a flat 
bottomed gasoline launch which cruised over much of the flooded 
area. We camped that night on high ground near the mud volcanoes 
where I nearly lost my life. I foolishly left a prescribed 


Packard: path through the area in order to get a better view of the 

boiling mud in one of the larger craters. The crust began to 
break and I narrowly missed falling head first into the crater. 
After a breakfast of sausage and fried eggs cooked over the 
camp fire, we continued the cruise among the mesquite trees 
scattered over the flooded area. No significant cutting was 
noticed and no new channels were being formed, so we returned 
to the cars for the drive home, where I prepared an account 
of the trip for the Free Lance. 

Baum: Did you have any other contact with Mexico then? I know you 
spent some years in Mexico later on. 

Packard: Yes, I did. I remember two personal incidents, both related 
to the Madera Revolution which started in 1910. Since one 
objective of the land reform program was to take over the 
California-Mexico ranch belonging to Harry Chandler of the Los 
Angeles Times, considerable fighting between the regular 
Mexican army stationed in Mexicali and the Madera forces occurred 
below the line. 

On the morning of a day when a determined attack on Mexicali 
by the advancing revolutionary forces was expected } I managed 
to get a bird s eye view from a roost on top of the Calexico 
water tower located on the International border. I could look 
into the trenches of the defending garrison below me and could 
get occasional glimpses of what I assumed to be the attacking 
forces across New River. The planned attack was not made, so my 
anticipated rendezvous with destiny brought no results. 


Packard: The other incident to which I referred concerned tny brother 
John who was spending his high school vacation with us in El 
Centro. As I recorded earlier, John had become a socialist 
after hearing Eugene Debs make one of his impassioned talks 
in the Greek Theater at the University of California in his 
1908 campaign for the Presidency. On a visit to the Mexican 
border he became intensely interested in the cause of the 
Revolution, and wanted to take my shotgun and 22 -rifle and join 
the Madera Forces. His revolutionary zeal was whetted and, in 
a sense, diluted by the promise of 160 acres of land after 
victory had been obtained. I managed to avert the crisis by 
getting him a job on the State Game Farm near Hayward--in which 
he was very much interested. I might add that some years later 
John returned to the Valley as a civil liberties lawyer to 
defend the rights of striking farm workers who had been arrested 
and held in jail as a strike breaking technique. On two occasions 
the vigilante farmer group became so threatening that John 
had to be escorted out of the Valley by motorcycle police. 

Another incident, shedding light on the politics of the 
time, occurred during an election in July. It was hot and 
everyone who could get away had moved out of the Valley. 
So just before election day Medhurst went to Yuma and picked 
up all the bums he could find that would come to El Centro. 
( Laughter ) He gave them the names of the people whom he 
knew had moved out of the Valley for the summertime. They were 
all lined up for the election. But the first man to appear 


Packard: was an Irishman who had forgotten the name that Medhurst gave 
him. So he got out the paper. The election judge said, 
"What s that?" And he said, "This is my name." Medhurst, 
informed of what he did, said, "Well, I had to just tell 
my forty men to turn around and march out," but he said, "I 
was in no danger because the other side had the same number." 
( Laughter ) But that s the way politics went down there 
at that time. 

There was another incident involving Medhurst which 
further illustrates the character of the times. The city of 
Imperial voted wet and became a rundown saloon town. All 
other towns in the Valley were dry. But bootlegging was 
widespread. Medhurst used the Free Lance in leading an anti- 
bootlegging campaign in El Centro, although he was a heavy 
drinker. Mr. Davis, who owned one of the main drugstores, was 
supposed to be the principal offender. I went to the final 
town meeting when Medhurst was going to discuss the issue. 
He won and as a result Davis had to stop selling liquor for 
awhile. When I was walking home from the meeting with Medhurst, 
he stopped at a restaurant and said, "Just a minute. I have 
to go get something." He came out with a bottle of whiskey, 
and said, "Davis has been charging me too much. I simply 
would not stand for it." And that was the whole reason ( Laughter) 
for his campaign. 

During the Prohibition era there was a speaker from Los 
Angeles who was addressing a group in El Centro on the dangers 


Packard: of alcohol. He had a demonstration showing how alcohol would 
kill germs. And I remember quite distinctly when a farmer s 
wife sitting in front of me, leaned over to her husband and 
said, "I m never going to drink any more of this Colorado 
muddy water without a little whiskey in it." ( Laughter ) 

Baum: He sold her on the whiskey, huh. 

Social Life 

Baum: It sounds like there wasn t much family life there in Imperial 
Valley, if the conditions were so terrible. 

Packard: Oh no, there was a camaraderie about living in the Valley 
during those pioneer days that made everybody neighbors. 
There were many young college graduates both on farms and in 
all of the towns. Some were young professional peopledoctors , 
lawyers, and real estate agentsgetting a start in a pioneer 
area. A country club was organized in El Centro which became 
quite a center for social life. The Ten Thousand Club was 
a women s Chamber of Commerce. The objective was to increase 
the population of El Centro, then about 3,000 to 10,000. 
The Ten Thousand Club finally became a part of the Federated 
Women s Clubs of the state. Emma was active in this organ 
ization and also in organizing the first P.T.A. in El Centro. 

And then there were occasional trips to the desert and the 
mountains, which always thrilled us. For example, we celebrated 
my first birthday in the Valley on a two day trip to Signal 


Packard: Mountain and back. We drove with a farmer friend and his family 
in a buckboard wagon drawn by a team of horses. We camped out 
at the foot of the mountain and climbed to the top before it 
got too hot in the morning. When we moved onto the Experiment 
Farm our frequent means of relaxation was to drive to El Centro, 
park Clara in her baby buggy in the prescription department of 
Duniway s drugstore which joined the Open House, where we 
went to the movies. 

The Holtville fiesta typified the spirit of the time. 
It was organized by Phil Brooks, Dave Williams, and other 
kindred characters who owned farms on the east side of the 
Valley, or were in the real estate business in Holtville. 
Their enthusiasm and energy got everyone excited about the 
big New Year s celebration. The program was planned well in 
advance. Farmers were induced to donate turkeys, chickens, 
and farm products. Farmer s wives and women in town baked 
pies and cakes. Ten to twelve thousand attended from all over 
the Valley. Some brought picnic dinners but nearly everyone 
got all they could eat from the Fiesta food supply, which 
included barbecued beef and lamb, cooked by Vaughn Azhderian, 
an Armenian farmer who was our neighbor at Meloland. For 
some days before the Fiesta each year we would see "blanket 
stiffs" making their way past the Experiment Farm to Holtville 
where they could cache enough food to last for days. A very 
lively rodeo followed the dinner. Dave Williams officiated. 
He had a beautiful Palomino horse and silver-mounted saddle 


Packard: which, with his big sombrero, made quite a picture. Texas 

cowboys rode bucking horses, roped cattle, and put on a great 

Another event of a somewhat similar character was the annual 
barbecue given by the California-Mexican Ranch in connection 
with their sale of horses and mules. Walter Bowker, manager 
of the ranch, was a colorful character. He and his family 
lived in a large ranch house on the American side of the 
border, where the auctions took place. 

Baum: This was an affair all the Valley people would come to? 

Packard: Yes. People would come whether they wanted to buy or not. 

There was a glamour associated with the big Mexican ranch and 
the barbecue that was hard to ignore. 

There were a good many interesting characters in the 
Valley at that time. Harold Bell Wright was one of them. 
He lived about a mile east of us. He had quite a large ranch, 
producing horses and cotton. And he had a very practical 
ranch type home. There was a long driveway leading to the house, 
which was set back about a quarter of a mile from the main 
road. The driveway was lined on both sides with red Ragged 
Robin roses, which were very beautiful during most of the 
season. He would never buy an automobile but he had two 
very beautiful driving horses and a very fancy buggy--a phaeton. 
He and his wife would drive into town in great style with 
liveried coachmen in the seat. 

Baum: Was Howard Bell Wright primarily a rancher or a writer? 


Packard: He was both, but primarily an author. He was a good rancher, too. 
He raised purebred saddle horses and specialized on cotton 

Baum: It seems curious for someone who was already established as 
a writer to live in such a hot, difficult climate. 

Packard: He came to the Valley because he had T. B. and thought the dry 
climate might help. He finally moved to Arizona, which was 
just as hot and dry, but where he avoided the annoyance of the 
fine silt dust which was a major trial for Valley people. 

The last time we saw the Harold Bell Wright farm was in 
1956. The Ragged Robin roses were dead and the ranch house 
was occupied as sleeping quarters by Mexican ranch hands working 
for an absentee owner. 

The Winning of Barbara Worth was the popular novel at the 
time, at least in the Valley which provided the setting. The 
Barbara Worth hotelby far the best hotel in the Valley until 
it burned down in 1958--was built at that time. 

And then there was Fritz Kloke and his remarkable wife. 
He had been a miner in Alaska, where they met, and where he 
had accumulated a small fortune. Mrs. Kloke, whose first 
husband was Captain Dawson of Alaskan fame, was the first woman 
to go down the White Horse Rapids on the Yukon. A group of 
men were going down the river on a raft and they were not taking 
any women. But Mrs. Kloke jumped from the pier onto the raft 
after it had started and had to stay on the rest of the way if 
she could. ( Laughter ) She was a terrific characterhomely 


Packard: as they come. She had lost one eye and never had the empty 

socket covered. She was noted for wearing large "Merry Widow" 
hats decorated with large ostrich plumes. The Kloke house was 
a veritable Alaskan museum with a magnificent white polar 
bear rug in the living room. 

Mr. Kloke opened a bank in Calexico and planted pear 
trees on his farm a short distance out of town. Mrs. Kloke 
was a great gardener. Her flower beds were by far the best 
in the Valley. She was very community minded and was very 
active as a civic leader. 

Baum: Was the pear farm successful? I didn t know pears would do 
well in such a hot valLey. 

Packard: You are right, the pear orchard was not a success. But the 
bank was a success, and the Kloke s 1 played an important role 
in Valley affairs as long as they lived. 

With no air conditioning, the summer heat in the Valley 
was too much for Emma and our two little girls. So, as was 
the custom, Emma would take the children to the Coronado 
beach near San Diego during the summer while I would remain 
on the farm, driving over the mountains to San Diego over 
the weekends when I could. 

On one of the trips out of the Valley, our Model T Ford 
was loaded to capacity. The baby bed was strapped on the roof 
and both running boards were loaded with a variety of things. 
We camped out that night near Campo at the cr^st of the coast 
range and when we drove into San Diego the ru-.<^ morning we 


Packard: were mistaken for refugees who were escaping the severe earth 
quake that had done considerable damage in the Valley that night, 
Of course, unknown to us. When I got back to the farm a day 
or so later, two dozen glass cans of apricots which Emma had 
put up just before leaving were in a messy pile on the kitchen 

It was that summer, as I recall it, when Emma was able to 
get Clara, then five years old, into Madame Montessori s class 
in San Diego. She had come over from Italy to promote her 
particular type of child training. Clara was not impressed 
by the opportunity. She much preferred staying on the beach 
playing in the sand. Various means of training were used. In 
one class designed to develop poise, Dr. Montessori walked in 
a dignified way along a straight chalk line and Clara followed 
just as close as she could get without stepping on Madame 
Montessori s heels. 



Mrs. : 

Mrs. Packard: A Stay at Dr. Pottenger s Tuberculosis Sanatorium 

It was that summer, too, when we found that Emma had 
tuberculosis, which made it necessary for her to spend a year 
and a half at Dr. Pottenger s sanatorium in the hills above 
Monrovia. Here I will let Emma take over. 

How did you manage to leave the children when you went to the 

That was our biggest problem, of course. We had a school girl 
from the Meloland school who lived with us and helped with the 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

children and housework. In addition, Walter hired a housekeeper 
and somehow managed to "keep the home fires burning" when he 
took the children back after the summer heat had let up. I 
give him enormous credit for the way he met this emergency. 
How did you happen to go to Monrovia? 

I had suffered severely from hay fever in the dust of Imperial 
Valley. While at Coronado Beach for the summer, I went to a 
Dr. Frances Allen in San Diego to get help for that. She had 
had T. B. herself, so she recognized the symptoms and recom 
mended Dr. Pottenger and his sanatorium as the best help that 
I could get. I had inherited a sum of money from my father, 
which made the expense possible. So Walter took me up to 
Monrovia in September, 1915, leaving me there, while he took 
the two children back home to Imperial Valley. 
What was the method of treatment at that time? I understand 
that the sanatorium method has largely been discontinued with 
the discovery of streptomycin. 

At that time, rest in bed was the first treatment. Here, I 
think a few words about Dr. Francis Pottenger, himself, are in 
order. He was something of a pioneer in T. B. treatment. His 
first wife had died of it during the period when it was thought 
that high altitude and exercise was a good thing. Many went to 
the Southwest for the dry air and mild climate, or to Colorado 
for the altitude. Dr. Pottenger specialized in the study of 
T. B. after his wife s death and his sanatorium was one of 
three in the U.S. that rated as tops one of these was run by 


Mrs . : 


Mrs. ; 


Mrs. : 

the famous Dr. Trudeau, whose sanatorium was at Saranac Lake, 
New York. In being a pioneer, Dr. Pottenger was often at odds 
with the A.M. A. and was something of an experimenter and in 
novator in his treatment. Rest in bed until most of the fever 
subsided was the first treatment. In addition to caring for 
the general health of the patient, he used tuberculin vaccine 
which was supposed to help gain immunity to fight the disease. 
How did he keep people contented, with so much time on their 

It was said that Dr. Pottenger s ability to keep people happy 
for the minimum six months of rest was the main secret of his 
success. In the first place, he immediately became "Father" 
to all patients and always called himself that. He bantered 
and joked one out of a morning grouch. The daily routine 
actually was designed to keep the patient busy--and interrupted 
from dull thoughts. 

This sounds like an expensive place to stay. 

In relation to salaries, I suppose it was above regular medical 
services of the period. But I paid $35.00 a week, and that 
included absolutely everything- -room, board, two visits from 
the doctor every day, a nurse always on call by bell, all medicines 
and X-raysnothing was "extra" unless you needed a special 
nurse which most people did not. 

Again, Dr. Pottenger had a way of finding out the interests 
of patients and stimulating their mental activities--Freud 


Mrs. ; 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

was being talked of a great deal about that time. Among the 
books in the sanatorium library I found one called The Law 
of Psychic Phenomenon by Thomas Jay Hudsonwhich seemed too 
old and out of datebut no, "Father" said it was rather a basic 
history of the development of psychology and worth reading 
which I did and enjoyed, and have always followed up in a 
general way as new ideas along the lines of psychology have 
been presented. 

It looks as though sanatorium life was made as pleasant as 
a summer resort. 

Yes, it really was once you accepted the routine, and much 
entertainment was provided for patients who were able to be 
up many hours of a day. Every holiday was noted on the menu 
with appropriate foods. Visitors were allowed after 4 p.m., 
but there was no strict rule about this, except for Rest Hours, 
which must not be interrupted! On the whole, patients adjusted 
happily and if not, they usually left, on advice of Dr. Pottenger. 
"Father" became a lifelong friend of the family and we often 
consulted him by letter. However, the subjects of the letters 
became wide and varied as he was intensely interested in the 
same social and economic problems with which Walter was working. 
Did you stay at the sanatorium all the time until "cured"? 
They did not call it a "cure" at that periodalways the word 
used was "arrested" case. I stayed for fifteen months the first 
time and was allowed to go home in time for Christmas of 1916 
where I spent two months or more. About April, I went back 


Mrs. : to the sanatorium for a couple of months additional "booster 

shots" of tuberculin. By that time, my husband had accepted 

the job of Assistant State Leader of Farm Advisors with the 
University of California, and we moved to Berkeley during the 
summer of 1917, to a house at 2817 Piedmont Avenue. 

I should also state before leaving this subject, that 
Dr. Pottenger examined all our family and gave the usual 
tuberculin tests. Clara spent a few weeks in my room and was 
given tuberculin as a cautionary preventive to help establish 
more resistance to the "bug". She has not had any trouble 
since. Emmy Lou, being younger, had some infection and did 
not thrive, but she never had an "open" case. When she was 
eight years old--the year we went to Delhi--"Father" was 
worried about her and thought it best for her to take the 
rest cure at the sanatorium. So we left her there for six months 
and she came back looking plump and rosy. As can be seen, this 
was an important period in the lives and health of all of the 
family. It was the first major crisis we had to meet and we 
all give Dr. Pottenger full credit for his help in meeting it. 
We saw him many times during the yearsat home with his wife } 
for lunch>or on visits to the sanatorium- -maybe for a check-up 
after a number of years. He died in 1961 at the age of 91. 
He was the author of several medical books on T. B. and in 
1952 he published his autobiography. 


Farming Conditions 

Packard: To get back to Imperial Valley, I might say something 

about the character of the farming and the transitions which 
took place. In the beginning it was a period of small family- 
type farms. Many of the farmers were original homesteaders and 
most of them grew grain, alfalfa, and raised livestock. But 
the climate was especially adapted to the production of early 
vegetables and specialty crops. A few skilled and well fin 
anced farmers were beginning to produce and ship cantaloupes, 
onions, and cabbage in carload lots. It was not long before 
whole train loads of melons left the Valley for Eastern markets. 
But even on these specialized farms mules and horses provided 
the motive power. There were no tractors. 

Two very contrasting records were made by two farmers 
in the Heber area which I think are worth recording. Mr. 
vJill Fawcett was the largest cantaloupe grower in the early 
days. He had a 320-acre farm which was beautifully cared for. 
The Fawcetts lived on the farm in a very delightful and commodious 
tent house designed to minimize the discomfort from the heat. 
He used mules for motive power and employed seasonal labor 
during planting and harvest. He was a very successful family 
farm operator. As a result of his success in farming he became 
a director in the El Centre branch of the Bank of America and 
later on, a director in Transamerica which led to dire cir 
cumstances during the great depression. When talking to 

69 a 

Packard: Mr. Fawcett in Los Angeles just prior to the 1929 stock market 
crash, he told me he was borrowing all he could from the bank 
to buy Transamerica stock which he knew was going to recover 
from a temporary drop in value. As I recall it the stock was 
then selling for about $20.00 per share. It finally reached 
a low of $2.00 per share and during the decline the bank took 
everything that Mr. Fawcett owned, including his home and 
Cadillac car. 

The other of these two family farm operators was Mr. Brock, 
who ran what was known as the Date Farm. As I recall it, the 
farm did not contain more than forty acres, only a portion of 
which was planted to dates. He stuck to farming, gradually 
expanding his operations in various places in the Valley. 
He was one of the first to use tractors. I remember offering 
him a job in the Resettlement Administration in 1936. But 
he was entirely content with his lot as a farmer. His son 
now owns and operates the most highly mechanized commercial 
farms in the Valley, and is one of the largest users of Mexican 
braceros in the state. 

Baum: So the small family farm went right out? 

Packard: Yes, as a controlling factor. Many small farms remain but the 
big commercial operators dominate the Valley now. 

Baum: I wanted to ask you about the labor on the farms in the early 
days. Where did they get their labor? You say the farms were 
mostly family farms at that time. 

Packard: Most of the family farms, as I recall, were self-sufficient 



Mrs. : 

Packard: so far as labor was concerned. There were a good many "blanket 
stiffs" who found work during harvest time. The main employment 
was associated with grape, melon, asparagus, and other specialty 
crop production. Hundreds of experienced packing-house workers 
called fruit tramps would appear at the beginning of the harvest 
season and stay till the harvest work ended. Many Japanese 
workers were employed at that time. 

Wasn t that about the time when the I.W.W. s were riding high? 
Yes. There was an I. WiW. camp along the river near Holtville 
but I never had any contact with them. 

The "blanket stiffs" would often stop in for something to eat 
on their way between El Centre and Holtville. We were told 
they had our front gate-post marked as a good place to stop 
for breakfast, if they asked for work. When they came I would 
give them some odd job and then cook some eggs and bacon for 
them. This type of labor has practically disappeared now. 
Most of the workers in the Valley were itinerants, you know. 

Baum: Yes. That s what I wondered. I supposed that all the farmers 
needed an extra man now and then. 

Packard: Yes. But when it came to cantaloupes or grapes or harvesting 
specialty crops, thousands of workers would come in from Los 
Angeles. Many Mexican families lived in El Centre and Calexico. 

Baum Transient American. . . 

Packard: They were fruit tramps who followed the harvest season every 


Baum: And always enough of those showed up at the time you needed 

Packard: Yes. 

Baum: I suppose they knew the route when they were needed. 

Packard: Yes. They never had much labor shortage. People would come 
down even from the San Joaquin Valley to get jobs during the 
seasonal period of peak demand. 

Baum: What kind of labor did you use on the Experiment Farm? 

Packard: We had one steady farm hand to do the farm work and occasionally 
employed other workers on special jobs. The regular man lived 
in a small house built for the purpose. We frequently used a 
Mexican neighbor for odd jobs. He lived on a small farm about 
half a mile down the road. 

The big change in employment came after the All American 
canal was completed. The assurance of an ample supply of rel 
atively clear water provided the conditions under which large 
mechanized farms could be successfully organized. 

Another factor which influenced the character of agriculture 
in the Valley was a letter by Ray Lyman Wilbur, Secretary of 
Interior, under President Hoover, which exempted Imperial 
Valley from the restrictions of the acreage limitation provision 
of the Reclamation Act. This permitted shippers and other 
commercial operators to own and operate any amount of land. 
Big mechanized operations grew apace. And with it came the 
demand for itinerant farm workers and the growth of the Bracero 
program under which thousands of Mexican workers would be 


Packard: brought in, usually under the guidance and control of labor 
contractors . 

The transition period from family farms to corporate farming 
came during the beginning of the great depression when thousands 
of families from the Dust Bowl came to California looking 
for work. They camped on ditch banks and in slum areas bordering 
the town. Imperial Valley was often the first stop. As un 
organized, propertyless , and disfranchised workers, they were 
exploited by the large farm operators, and considerable 
antagonism developed between the two groups. 

Later on I got a touch of the intensity of feeling on 
both sides. On one occasion, when I was National Director 
of the Rural Resettlement Division, I had stopped in the 
Valley on my way from Washington to Berkeley to find out 
what I could about the difficulty which the Berkeley office 
was having in getting a labor camp established in Brawley. 
I met with the secretary of the Valley-wide Chamber of Commerce, 
whom I knew. He told me that every Chamber of Commerce in 
the Valley had gone on record against the camp program. vlhen 
I asked him whether or not he had taken a vote among the farm 
workers who would benefit by the program, he could hardly 
understand what I was talking about. I explained that I was 
there in the interests of the workers and was not so much 
concerned about what the Chamber of Commerce thought. The camp 
was established but not until after one of the County officials 
had threatened to burn the camp down if we went ahead. The 


Packard: camps improved conditions by providing clean camping places, 
hot and cold running water, toilet facilities, shower baths, 
facilities for washing clothes, and places to keep children 
under proper supervision and care when the parents were in the 
fields. But in spite of these improvements the camps were 
far from adequate. But this is getting ahead of my story. 

Establishing the Imperial Valley Agricultural Experiment Station 
University of California 

Baum: Now, Mr. Packard, your job was to determine whether an experi 
ment station would be a feasible thing there, is that right? 
Or a good idea? 

Packard: Well, yes. My job was, first, to determine what the Conditions 
were relating to climate, water, soils, and so on. And to find 
out whether or not an experimental station would be desirable 
and useful to the settlers who were just coming in. The leg 
islature had made an appropriation of $6,000 to finance a two- 
year study of this kind. 

I had to get around the Valley by horse and buggy the first 
year. Then the University bought a motorcycle for my use. 
I remember riding out to the asparagus farm belonging to an 
attorney in Imperial. I met the manager at the watering 
trough. He dipped out a bucket of water and poured it over 
himself from head to foot, then refilled the bucket and handed 
it to me. I followed his example. I was completely dry riding 
through the sun, before I reached town. When we moved 


Packard: to the Experiment Farm I was given my first Model T Ford. I 
drove it back from Berkeley, making Los Angeles by the valley 
route in three days. None of the Imperial Valley roads were 
paved. Levees were built in the middle and on both sides of 
the dirt roads. While one side was being flooded traffic would 
drive on the other dry side, which helped to keep down the 
dust . 

Baum: Did you put out any plots yourself or did you just go around 
and check what people were doing? 

Packard: We planted a few hundred date seeds of superior varieties 

which Dr. Coit had gathered when he was working in Arizona. 
When the date palms were two years old we distributed them to 
farmers who expressed interest in growing dates. I helped 
organize a date growers association but date growing never 
took hold in Imperial Valley as it did in Coachella Valley. 

My principal activity was in getting acquainted with 
conditions, interviewing farmers, testing soils, observing 
results of various farm practices and the like. In making 
these studies I worked with various professors of the 
University who would come down on special jobs, but mostly 
with J. Eliot Coit who was a man who had lived in Arizona 
and was familiar with the climatic conditions in the Imperial 
Valley. We prepared a "Settlers Crop Manual" together, giving 
advice to settlers, discussing the water problems and the soil 
problems, the problems of climate, then listing the crops that 
could be grown, when the time was to plant and the time to 
harvesteverything that would be of use to settlers, including 


Packard: a discussion of their financial problems and all that. 

Baum: This was a State of California publication? Or was it the 
University of California? 

Packard: It was published in 1911 by the College of Agriculture of the 
University of California. I handled the parts dealing with 
soils, water, and economics, while Dr. Coit handled every 
thing dealing with crops, climate, planting and harvestime, 
varieties, etc. 

This report was followed, six years later, by a bulletin 
entitled "Agriculture in Imperial Valley--a Manual for Farmers" 
in which I brought the earlier report up to date. 

Baum: Before you even turned in your investigation, it sounds like 
you thought they d build an experiment station. 

Packard: Yes, it seemed desirable. My main job during the end of the 
two year period was to select a good location for the pro 
posed experiment farm because it seemed perfectly obvious to 
everyone that a station should be established. I examined 
several locations--determing the salt content, the character 
of the surface and subsoils--and , in general, trying to select 
land that was as representative as possible. 

A forty acre piece of land was finally decided on. It 
was located near the center of the Valley at a railroad stop 
called Meloland, about halfway between El Centre and Holtville. 

Baum: Would you have stayed in El Centre if they had decided against 

an experiment station? If they cancelled, would you have stayed 
there as a settler? 


Packard: Oh, no. 

Baum: You didn t intend to be a farmer? You were a research man. 

Packard: I was with the University and I did not intend to farm, although 
I, very foolishly, was caught up in the pioneer spirit of the 
place and after moving to the Experiment Farm I traded our 
house in El Centre for an undeveloped piece of desert land some 
miles south of Holtville in an area which I thought would be pros 
perous because of the fine character of the soil. The University 
should never have allowed me to do this, but it did give me 
a first hand knowledge of the financial problems a settler 
faced in trying to put desert land under cultivation. 

Baum: Maybe it made you a better man to represent the settler. 

Packard: Perhaps so. But it was a sad experience. But to get back to 
the Experiment Farm. Since it was difficult for me to super 
vise the building and to get things started on the farm while 
living in El Centre, Emma and I, with little Clara, moved out 
to the Phil Brooks ranch which was just across the road and 
ditch from the Experiment Farm. It was an alfalfa ranch where 
hay and pasture were sold to Texas cattle feeders during the 
winter. The house was quite spacious with the kitchen and 
dining room joined in one big room ruled over by Albert the 
cook. He was a colorful character who claimed to be the son 
of a judge. He said that alcohol had been his downfall and 
that he had accepted the job on the ranch in the hope that 
he could avoid temptation. He had been a drummer in a Salvation 
Army band at one time. Beside Albert, there was Herman the 


Packard: Dutchman, and Johnny the Greek who were mule skinners on the 
Brooks ranch. Vaughn Azhderian, the Armenian, was a frequent 
visitor while Louis the Frenchman, who worked for me on the 
Experiment Farm, was also a member of the Brooks ranch family. 
He went to France one month to marry a boyhood sweetheart 
he knew in Tahiti_ where they were born. 

Baum: It sounds like a little international house. 

Packard: It seemed so to us. I shall never forget the sight of Herman, 
Johnny and Louis carrying a bucket of hot water and other 
equipment out to Albert s shack when he was sick and needed 
a bath. Louis carried the washtub which he used as a drum 
while they all sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" on their way 
to Albert s shack. Albert survived. But he couldn t take 
the humiliation he felt one time when Dean Wickson and his very 
British secretary, Mr. Henderson, a man of very proper manners, 
came for lunch. Albert had been looking forward to this oc 
casion with some excitement. But to our surprise and his 
disgust, two Texans rode in that noon to tend to their cattle, 
then on the ranch. vie, of course, invited them to dinner. 
This was just too much for Albert, whose one chicken would not 
go around and who would not be able to sit at the table as he 
was used to doing. tfhat was more, Herman the Dutchman had very 
bad table manners which embarrassed both Albert and Louis the 
Frenchman. Dean Wickson and Mr. Henderson took it all in the 
best of humor. 

Baum: And what did Albert do? 


Packard: Right in the middle of the meal Albert went to the phone at 
one end of the room where everyone could hear and hollered 
at the operator saying, "Get me Taggert s Pool Hall." When 
he got the connection he said, "I want you to send another cook 
out to the Brooks ranch--! can t stand this job any longer." 
( Laughter ) This was the end of Albert. 

Johnny Zenos (the Greek) ended up as one : of the larger 
grower-shippers of carrots and made a comfortable fortune. 
Louis was killed in the First World War fighting for France. 
Vaughn Azhderian became an important melon and grape grower- 
shipper in the Turlock district. I do not know what happened 
to Herman. 

Experimental Work and Farmer Education 
Experimental Work 

Baum: What sort of projects did you work on at the Experiment Station? 

Packard: The work on the Experiment Farm was really directed by 
the heads of the various departments at the University. 
Professor Frederic Bioletti was in charge of viticultural work. 
Professor Charles Shaw, who was head of the Agronomy Division, 
was in charge of all field crops. Dr. J. Eliot Coit,*with 
whom I had worked before, directed everything dealing with 
the growing of deciduous fruits. Dr. Charles W. Woodworth, 
the bearded chief of the Entomology Department, was a frequent 
visitor because insects of various sorts caused lots of damage. 

* See Coit, John Eliot, "Some Recollections of California Ag 
riculture," 1962, p. 46. Typescript of interview conducted for 
Oral History Office, University of California at Los Angeles. 


Packard: He was the only one who would not bow to the Valley climate. 
He always wore a black suit and his long underwear while I 
sweltered in the meagerest outfit I could get. 

There was a U.S. Government Date Experiment Farm at 
Indio at that time. 

Baum: The Indio Experiment Farm was already established long before 
the California one. 

Packard: Yes. We got our date offshoots from the Indio Experiment 

Station. But my principal service in the Valley was not on 
the Experiment Farm itself; it was very largely in dealing 
with farmers and trying to meet the problems that they had. 
For example, there was a big infestation of yellow butterflies 
on alfalfa. They laid eggs which presently became caterpillars 
which caused great damage to very large areas of alfalfa. 
An entymologist , Bridwell, sent to the Valley by the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture worked with me in developing means 
of control, under the direction of Professor Woodworth. 
Another time grasshoppers were a great menace. In that case 
we prepared a large quantity of poisoned bran which was dis 
tributed to farmers for scattering in the fields to kill the 
grasshoppers . 

He also developed a mechanical trap that could be dragged 
through the fields and catch grasshoppers by the barrel full. 
They d fly up, hit the smooth tin surface of the trap, and fall 
into the heavy oil at the bottom. We would load this trap on 
a wagon and take it to farms where the problem was bad and 


Packard: use our horses in dragging it through the alfalfa fields. 

Hogs were an important product in the Valley at that time. 
And hog cholera was one of the things that caused a great deal 
of loss. And as a result, the University employed Dr. Walter 
J. Taylor, a veterinarian, to come to the Experiment Farm 
and to work with farmers in vaccinating against cholera. And 
we had a supply of serum on the farm and the farmers would come 
to the Experiment Station and get the serum and then, where 
necessary, Dr. Taylor would go out to the farm and show them 
how to do the innoculation. Occasionally I would go out and 
do it myself. Of course, at all the farm institutes we always 
demonstrated things of that kind, as well. 

Baum: I suppose alfalfa was the big feed crop. 

Packard: Oh, yes. Dairy and cattle fattening for beef... 

Baum: Oh, they had dairy, too. 

Packard: Oh, yes, they had dairy cows. 

Baum: I thought dairy cows didn t do so well in hot weather. 

Packard: They don t do too well in the hot weather but they did have 
dairy farms. And they were rather successful. And they had 
a number of cooperative dairies, creameries that were organized. 
But times have changed, today the Valley supplies much of the 
alfalfa hay used on commercial dairy farms in Los Angeles County. 

In 1917 I prepared a report on "Irrigation of Alfalfa in 
Imperial Valley" based on a study of root development of 
alfalfa on different soil types and varying water conditions. 
It was published as Bulletin 294. 


Packard: Cotton was introduced as a commercial crop soon after 
my arrival. There were many settlers from Texas who were 
experienced cotton growers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture 
introduced a variety of cotton from Durango, Mexico, which, 
fQr a time seemed to have wonderful possibilities. A cotton 
seed mill was established in El Centre and cotton gins began 
to appear wherever cotton became an important crop. I was 
sent, by the University, on a trip through the cotton growing 
regions of Mississippi, to study the techniques of cotton 
growing in the rich Delta areas. Later on I addressed the annual 
meeting of the National Association of Cotton Manufacturers 
in Boston. My paper on "The New Cotton Fields of the Southwest" 
was published by the Association. 

One phase of my work involved a study of ground water 
conditions in different parts of the Valley. One incident 
stands out in my memory. I found very salty ground water 
standing about fifteen feet below the surface in a very sandy 
area north of Holtville. At a meeting of the Farm Bureau center 
that night I warned of the danger of a rise of the water table 
and the concentration of salts on the ground surface. I was 
told later that the farmers had a good laugh at what I said 
after I left. After all, didn t everyone know that the soils 
of the Valley were hundreds of feet deep. But three years 
later one of the farmers in the area stopped by to say good 
bye. He had all of his belongings piled on his hay rack and 
was headed out. With tears in his eyes he said that he had 

* "The New Cotton Fields of the Southwest," published by 
Boston Cotton Growers Association. 


Packard: come into the Valley with $45,000.00 and was leaving with his 
family and no capital at all. A rising water table and salt 
had ruined his farm. 

Farm Institutes 

Packard: Prior to the organization of the present Agricultural 

Extension Service, Farm Institutes were held each year. Mr. 
J. B. Neff, a walnut grower near Anaheim, directed the Farm 
Institute in Southern California. He would come down to Imperial 
Valley once a year and we would organize meetings in El Centre, 
Imperial, Brawley and other towns. And we d have discussions 
of problems that concerned the farmers in the area. 

Professor Warren Clark was the State Director of the 
Farmer Institute work at that time. He was a very devoted and 
effective representative of the College of Agriculture. Besides 
running the Farmer s Institute program, Professor Clark carried 
the University specialists to the farmers by means of the 
Demonstration Train which covered the state from the Oregon 
line to the Mexican border. The train carried several cars 
containing exhibits arranged and supervised by department 
representatives who lived together in a Pullman car and were 
overfed in a regular diner attached to the train. 

Emma and I were invited to go on a number of trips--! 
representing the Irrigation Engineering Division of the Univer- 
sity.and Emma helping Mrs. Clark in demonstrating the use of 


Packard: a fireless cooker which were quite the rage in the hot Valley 

areas. The fireless cooker was particularly popular on Imperial 
Valley farms. The train schedule was well advertised in advance. 
It would stop at towns long enough to let everyone get a good 
view of the exhibits and to discuss problems with the specialists. 

Work with Frank Veihmeyer 

Packard: Frank Veihmeyer, now an honored retired Professor at 
Davis, came to the Valley with his wife about 1913 to work 
on the technical relationships of soil and water, a field in 
which much work was needed and in which he now has become a 
recognized world leader. He came as an employee of the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, but transfered to the University of 
California after receiving his doctor s degree. Some of his 
research work was carried out on the Experiment Farm, but most 
of it involved soil examinations on farms in various parts of 
the Valley. 

At one time Veihmeyer and I were authorized to make a trip 
over the desert area lying between the west side highline 
canal and the mountains in an effort to locate various wells 
that were supposed to exist in the area and to test the water. 
We enlisted the help of Mr. Richards, a neighbor of ours at 
Meloland. We loaded his wagon with blankets, grub, utensils 
and barrels of water, and hay for the four horses. We were 
gone several days and were able to locate most of the wells 


Packard: we were looking for. All but one were in uninhabited dry 

desert areas. There was a shack at one well. When we drove 
up no one appeared. When we knocked at the door a gruff voice 
said, "What do you want?" Opening the door a crack, he said 
the well was about 100 yards farther on. We conjectured 
that the character in the shack may have been a fugitive from 
justice. We replenished our water supply and drove on. 
Baum: These were wells that were built for some farm but were no 

longer in use? 
Packard: No. They had no use. They may have been dug by the government, 

during some early survey. 
Baum: It sounds like you and Frank Veihmeyer had a lot of adventures 


Packard: We did. We had a lot of interesting times together, including 
pleasure trips with the two families into both the desert 
and the mountainsas well as at least one summer vacation 
at Coronado Beach. 

On another occasion Frank and I carried out a mission for 
Frank Adams which may be worth recording. The river was at 
flood stage and had broken through the levees on both sides 
of the river above Yuma. Our job was to get a sample of water 
as near the center of the river as possible, in an effort to 
determine the quantity of silt being carried by the river 
during floods. Frank and I, with Surieh, an Egyptian assistant 
of mine on the Experiment Farm, started out one afternoon 
expecting to reach Yuma before dark. But a wind storm was 


Packard: on and the two plank roads over the sand hills were completely 
covered at frequent intervals with drifting sand. We bucked 
our way through drift after drift, taking turns driving the 
Model T Ford. We found a two-by-twelve-by-twelve foot plank 
which we used as a pry, putting it crossways on the car each 
time we reached clear going on the two plank roads. We were 
nearing the end of the sand dune country about 2 a.m. when 
we got stuck again. I was driving and Frank and Surieh were 
pushing on either side of the car. When the wheels finally 
took hold. Veihmeyer forgot to jump back on the running board 
so was hit on the back of his head by the plank. Not knowing 
that anything had happened I drove ahead a little ways before 
I missed Veihmeyer. Surieh and I walked back and found 
Veihmeyer coming along holding his head. When he reached us^ 
his head was aching and we were all too exhausted to proceed 
so we camped out for the rest of the night. 

When we reached the flood plain of the river we found 
that the railway embankment was washed out at two places, 
leaving the rails, with ties attached, the only passage over 
the open cuts with brown water swirling through. So we parked 
the car, took our water containers and other equipment, walked 
across the ties and got our water samples from the Yuma bridge, 
returning as we had come. The lower part of Yuma was flooded. 
The walls of adobe buildings were being softened by the 
water and gradually sinking into a pile of mud, mixed with 
what the occupants could not get out in time. 


A Russian Soil Scientist Visits the Experiment Farm 

Packard: We had a number of interesting visitors. Notable among 
them was a Russian soil scientist who came to the Valley to 
collect soil samples to take back to Russia as permanent exhibits 
He was very thorough in his work. He had five foot holes dug 
in different soil types and then proceeded to carve out a 
sample about ten inches wide and six inches deep. He then 
built heavy boxes to fit the samples perfectly, cut the sample 
loose, and put on a cover for shipment to Moscow. Charles 
Shaw, then head of the Soils Department in Berkeley, told me 
years later that he had seen the samples in Russia. 

He proved to be a very interesting character. He insisted 
on staying with us on the farm. We had no room for him and 
suggested that he stay in the hotel in El Centre. But he 
was adamant , so we put a cot on the porch and had him for 
meals . 

Baum: It doesn t sound like your house was large enough to offer 
hospitality very easily. 

Packard: We managed quite all right. He regaled us with stories of 
his experiences as a revolutionary in Russia. He had spent 
long terms in prison and had been sent to Siberia at one time. 
He would get up from his chair excitedly and crouch behind it 
pretending that the rungs were prison bars and then act out 
a part. He explained how they exchanged tapped out messages 


Packard: by tapping on the bars. He was very sure that a violent revol 
ution would break out soon. But he was in a terrible fix. 
He had taken the motor car on the railroad from El Centre and 
walked over to the farm without paying any attention to his 
baggage. When we asked him where his luggage was he suddenly 
woke up and ran out to the tracks where he had seen the conductor 
dump his stuff. But there was no sign of it anywhere. We 
phoned the sheriff and the railroad office but without results. 
Everything the poor fellow had was in that luggagehis passport, 
money, notes of his trip and the like. Finally when he had 
finished his work, he got some help from his embassy in 
Washington, and departed. Meanwhile the Russian Revolution had 
broken out and our friend was frantic. Not more than two or 
three days later we were visiting the Harold Bell Wrights 
and found the Russian s luggage in the barn. Wright had 
expected a guest and had sent his man to the station to pick him 
up. The guest was not on the train but there was his luggage, 
supposedly. So he took it and for some reason the Wrights 
were never disturbed by the fact that they had no idea who 
owned the stuff. I reached our Russian friend at some point 
in the south and sent the baggage to him. 

Baum: Don t you remember his name? 

Packard: No I don t, and I don t know how I could find out. I certainly 
wish I knew. 


Water Distribution: The Imperial Valley Irrigation District 
and the All American Canal 

Packard: Water was, of course, the lifeblood. of the valley. The 

disastrous break in the course of the river in 1906 had hastened 
the bankruptcy of the original development company, which 
went into receivership. Col. Holabird, the court appointed 
receiver, operated the system until the present Imperial 
Irrigation District was organized. 

Baum: So the irrigation district took over. 

Packard: Yes. The district was organized. I was quite active in sup 
porting this move, which transferred control from the receiver 
ship to the farmers and townspeople of the Valley. The new 
district faced the same serious water problem that had caused 
trouble from the beginning. Getting rid of the silt in the 
canals was expensive and was constantly raising the ditch banks. 
Danger of another breakthrough still existed and besides there 
was always danger of a water shortage because the flow of the 
Colorado river was not controlled. Damaging floods would be 
followed by low flow not adequate to the irrigation needs. 
The irrigation district had two sources of income from 
the use of water. One was a charge on land value to meet 
the bond debt. The other was a charge for the water used. 

Baum: Well, that was the Henry George idea. 

Packard: Oh yes, sure. And it worked well. Under these conditions 
it was not profitable to hold land out of use because the 


Packard: land tax would pile up with no income to meet it. I found 

this out myself by buying undeveloped land in the hope of making 
something on the rise in land values. Development costs and 
no income to pay the land tax soon ate up any possible profits. 
It was a sad but effective lesson. 

Baum: It got rid of your absentee landholding. 
Packard: Yes. But I got my lesson early in that. 
Baum: Did the irrigation district work well? Did the farmers get 

along with each other? 

Packard: Oh yes. It worked very well. They hired a very good engineer 
and a very good manager and elected the best farmers for 
directors of the irrigation district. So the election of 
directors of the irrigation District was a serious political 
issue in the Valley. 

Baum: I wanted to ask about the irrigation system. You had the water 
from the Colorado River. Was there adequate water and was it 
distributed satisfactorily? 

Packard: The answer at that time was no. That whole problem interested 
me more than any other. I became chairman of the Imperial 
Valley Water Committee, which arranged for a detailed study 
of the All American canal which had been proposed as a means 
of avoiding complications with Mexico and of desilting the 
water. ElK)wood Mead, then with the University, made a report 
to the Committee disapproving the proposal but later changed 
his mind and came out as a strong advocate. 

Since it would be necessary to get the U.S. Bureau of 


Packard: Reclamation interested if the All American canal was to be 
built, I and two other members of the Committee went to El 
Paso to meet with the Reclamation Commission then holding a 
session there. We succeeded in getting the key men in the 
Commission, including A. P. Davis, the Reclamation head, to 
come to El Centre and Yuma to discuss the problem and the 
possibilities at mass meetings in both towns. Two years 
after I had moved to Berkeley I was sent to Washington by 
the Board of Supervisors of Imperial County to promote the 
program. To make a long story short the All American canal 
project was approved and surveys were begun on the Boulder 
Dam canyon project to determine the feasibility of building 
a dam to store water and reduce the flood damage. 

An interesting incident occurred in connection with the 
first reconnaissance survey of the All American route. I 
accompanied the group on horseback. The heavy wagon full of 
equipment was pulled by four horses. We planned to camp at 
a county well but were caught in a Valley dust storm and had 
to make a dry camp that night. When the air cleared in the 
morning we found that we were about a mile below the line in 
Mexico. Sand had blown down my back during the night and my 
hair was full of it. We had run out of water and drank juice 
from canned fruit, but the horses were suffering. They had 
had a hard day and needed water. So two of us rode horseback, 
leading the other horses in search for the county well, which 
we found in due time. During the first day we ran across the 


Packard: skeleton of a desert victim who had died lying under a greasewood 
shrub. He had tied his bandana to a twig in the hope, I 
suppose, that he would be found in time. 

Meloland School 

Packard: There was no school in Meloland when we moved on to the 
Experiment Farm, so I set about organizing a school district 
and building a rather modern country school. 

Baum: Was this a one room country school? 

Packard: No, it had two rooms, a common entrance way, and an office. 
I became Chairman of the school board which used to meet in 
my office. Mr. Richardson, an elderly farmer-philosopher 
from Illinois who lived down the road a half a mile, and 
John Waterman--a successful family farm operator and Phil 
Brooks, an Amherst College graduate, were the other members 
of the board. 

Baum: I suppose you didn t have too many applications. 

Packard: No, we didn t have too many. But we were fortunate in getting 
teachers who selected the Meloland School because they thought 
the Meloland school board might let them try out new ideas 
in education which we were glad to do. 

The circumstances proved to be just what Lura Sawyer*was 
looking for--a rural school with a board which might support 
her progressive ideas. Frances Adams, who was also interested 

in progressive education and in rural schools, joined Lura 

* Dr. Lura (Sawyer) Oak was on the Education Committee for General 
MacArthur during the reorganization of Japan. Now (1968) she has 
a consulting office in Palo Alto where she takes children who have 


Packard: the second year. They both lived in a little shack which we 

moved onto the Experiment Farm where running water was available. 
Incidentally, both teachers were selected to pose as the women 
characters in the mural which surrounded the upper wall in 
the lobby of the Barbara Worth Hotel, depicting the settlement 
of the Valley. 

The philosophical discussion which took place during the 
evenings on the farm covered the field. Each of these two 
Meloland teachers have made an enviable record. Lura Sawyer 
secured a Ph.D. degree from Yale University, specializing 
in child psychology. She taught at both Yale and Smith 
Colleges and during the occupation of Japan following World 
War II, she served as an honorary Colonel on General MacArthur s 

The story of Frances Adams, who is a direct descendant 
of President John Adams, is much more personal so far as her 
relationship to our family is concerned. She remained as a 
teacher after Lura Sawyer left. Her vision of the world was 
greatly enlarged when Albert Rh)B Williams was a guest of ours 
on the farm. He had become quite a famous character through 
his book, In the Claws o>f the German Eagle. I had met him 
through my mother and invited him down to be the speaker at 
the graduating exercises in the Holtville high school. He 
had been to Russia and was full of exciting revolutionary 
ideas and as I had feared, proved to be quite a shocker at 
the Holtville meeting. He and Frances struck up a lifelong 

* (continued from page 91) trouble learning to read (dyslexia). 


Packard: friendship. She joined his brother s church social service 
group in Cleveland for a while and then moved to New York 
where she was organizing a speakers bureau for the International 
Forum Association. She later became editor of the Forum s 
Bulletin which served as a news sheet for forums throughout 
the country. It was an exercise in free speech at a difficult 
time in our history. 

She married Alex Gumberg, a very knowledgeable Russian who 
later became a member of AMTORG, the Russian trading corporation. 
This, of course, brought her into close contact with Russian 
affairs. She made several trips to Russia and for years served 
on the Russian American Institute in New York. Alex served 
as a special advisor to Ambassador Morrow in Mexico and later 
became an advisor for Mr. Floyd Odium, head of the Atlas 
Corporation. The Gumbergs lived in an apartment at No. 1 Fifth 
Avenue and had a charming country place in Connecticut, where 
on various occasions Emma and I had a chance to meet people 
whom we would otherwise not have known. I remember especially 
one weekend with John Dewey. Alex died of heart failure in 
1940, after which Frances remained in New York where she has 
maintained an active interest in city, national, and inter 
national affairs. Our paths have crossed many times in 
New York, California, Puerto Rico, and Greece. 


Broadening Ideas 

Packard: Due in part to the pressures of World War I and, in part 

to normal evolutionary developments in agriculture, new elements 
were introduced into the agriculture of the Valley and new 
forces impinged on my own outlook and altered the subsequent 
course of events, so far as I was concerned. A new system 
of farm credit had become a vital need. Hearings were held 
in various parts of the Valley and I took what part I could. 
The result was the creation of the Federal Land Bank. 
Eltowood Mead, head of a newly established Department of Rural 
Institutions at the University, became a director in the new 

The Agriculture Extension Service was another outgrowth 
of the times. I helped to organize the Farm Bureau in Imperial 
County and became its second president. Paul Dougherty, a 
lifelong friend, became the first Farm Advisor. One of the 
first Farm Bureau projects was the organization of a 4-H boys 
Club. The special project was hog raising. When the time 
for judging came, I had a large tent erected on the Experiment 
Farm to accomodate an all day meeting. It was attended by 
about a hundred farmers and their hog-raising sons. 

My horizon was widened by events associated with the 
blowing up of the Los Angeles Times. I had come up to Los 
Angeles from the Valley the night of the incident and was 
shocked by the reports in the morning papers. A series of 


Packard: events followed. Lincoln Steffens appeared on the scene with 
a novel proposal for settling the matter. He thought the 
Los Angeles Times was in the wrong with its virulent anti- 
labor activity and suggested forgiveness on the part of Mr. 
Chandler on the basis of the Golden Rule. Clarence Darrow 
came out from Chicago to defend the labor group and to back 
Steffens. Clarence Darrow had his office in the same building 
in which my father had his office in Chicago. Their view 
points on religious issues were about as opposite as they 
could be. But Barrow s social viewpoint, especially his attitude 
toward labor, had my mother s complete support. Upton Sinclair 
got into the act and so did my mother. She befriended 
Katherine Schmidt, sister of the dynamiter. "Schmidty" was 
sent to San Quentin but was later released and married Beth 
Livermore, a member of the influential Livermore family of 
San Francisco. Through my mother s activity in this famous 
labor dispute I was introduced to a side of the labor movement 
that I had known little about. 

At about the same time and for somewhat the same reasons, 
I became aware of the political influence that could be exerted 
by powerful corporate interests. It involved a fight between 
the Los Angeles Times and Job Harriman, the socialist candidate 
for mayor of Los Angeles. It had become evident that Los 
Angeles needed more water and the engineers had developed a 
plan for bringing water down from Owens Valley. The plan 
was imaginative and costly. Opposition developed, not because 


Packard: of any engineering issue, but because the Harry Chandler 

interests had quietly bought up the dry desert land of the 
San Fernando Valley and planned to use Owens River water to 
irrigate the whole San Fernando Valley, a plan which, quite 
obviously, would raise land values in the San Fernando Valley 
by many millions of dollars. Job Harriman opposed the plan 
and ran for mayor in order to be in position to protect the 
public interest. The ensuing campaign was of top interest 
at that time. My mother was a staunch supporter of Harriman 
and my brother John later became his law partner. Harriman 
lost and the Chandler interests got the water and millions 
of dollars in increments in land value, created by the fact 
that the citizens of Los Angeles bonded themselves to pay 
for the project. 

Baum: Your socialist ideas were apparently being fortified by these 
Los Angeles contacts. 

Packard: Yes, that s right. But I was still very much of a neophyte. 

To get back to the story, the need for expanding farm production 
as part of the war effort emphasized the need for expanding 
the Agricultural Extension program. So in July, 1917, I was 
transferred from the Experiment Station staff, to the Extension 
Service, as Assistant State Leader of Farm Advisors, in charge 
of the work in all of the area lying south of San Francisco 
and Stockton to the Mexican border. I moved the family to 
Berkeley to begin a new phase of my life. We shared a two 
story house with the Veihmeyers during out two years stay 


Packard: in Berkeley. 

In retrospect, I realize that ray bent was not in the 
painstaking work of an agricultural scientist. I was more 
interested in the social and economic problems of the farm 
family. When serving as superintendent of the Imperial Valley 
Experiment Farm, my main interest was in working with farmers 
so the Extension Service seemed to me to be a field in which 
I would feel completely at home. 



Packard ; 


So, in July 1917, you and the family left Imperial Valley and 
settled in Berkeley where you took over your new duties as 
Assistant State Leader of Farm Advisors. What was the Extension 
Service s responsibilities and what were your duties? 

The Extension Service took the place of the old Farmer s 
Institutes. It was characterized by two definite features. 
The first of these was the establishment of a Farm Advisor 
in each agricultural county where office space, auto, and 
other local expenses were to be paid for by the county. 
The Farm Advisor was to bring facts from the subject matter 
departments of the College of Agriculture and the U.S. Depart 
ment of Agriculture to the farm. The second feature was the 
organization of Farm Bureaus in each county through which 
Farm Bureau Centers would be organized to provide an organized 
means for permitting the Farm Advisor to contact farmers and 
to learn something of their problems which the University 
might help solve. 

The plan was based on the then domination of the family 
farm. Horses and mules at that time provided the principal 
motive power. The areas of the state where large corporate 
farms now dominate had no adequate water supply. This fact 
applied to Imperial Valley, where the lack of adequate diversion 
works and storage, created serious water shortages at critical 


Packard: periods of the year. This has all changed now. The large 

farm operators dominate the Farm Bureau and highly mechanized 
corporate farms dominate the cotton, truck, and to a degree, 
the fruit producing areas of the state. 

The United States had entered the First World War and the 
work of the Extension Service was geared to the need for 
food production. Many of the controlling directives came 
from Washington and not all of them were applicable. For 
example, there was a drive to produce more wheat but most of 
the counties in my territory were not adapted to wheat prod 

Dean Thomas Forsythe Hunt had become dean of the College 
of Agriculture and had brought certain key men to the College. 
B.H. Crocheron, came from New York to organize and lead the 
Extension Service. Charles Shaw became head of the Soils 
Department and Elwood Mead was established as head of the new 
Department of Rural Institutions. Dr. J. Eliot Coit, who had 
been associated with me in Imperial Valley, became the Farm 
Advisor in Los Angeles County which, at that time, was the 
highest producing county of the United States in terms of 
money value . 

My job was to help organize Farm Bureaus which involved 
getting county boards of supervisors to appropriate the money 
needed to support the county Farm Advisor s office and traveling 
expenses. When this was done I had to help install the 
Farm Advisor and supervise his work. One of my responsibilities 


Packard: was to keep the Farm Advisors in touch with the subject matter 
departments of the College. Chester Rubel, who had graduated 
from the Iowa State College in 1904, was the Assistant State 
Leader in charge of the work in Northern California. 
Baum: In the Extension Service you were supposed to be concerned 

mainly with the physical aspects of raising crops. 

Packard: Yes, that was our principal function. This, of course, 
included all sorts of subjects, from soil management and 
irrigation practice to pruning, spraying, and fertilization. 
No one man could be expert in all of these fields. So one 
of my functions was to get answers from the experts in the 
University to questions which farmers asked Farm Advisors 
and which the Farm Advisors were unable to answer. 

The work of the Farm Advisors was not always wholly 
confined to the task of promoting agricultural production. 
At a meeting of a Farm Bureau Center in the mountain area 
of Madera County the Farm Advisor asked the ranchers what he 
or the University could do for them. The first answer, which 
was seconded by several others was, "We need wives. Most of 
us are living alone and if there is anything you can do to 
help meet this need, it will be appreciated." ( Laughter ) 
On returning to Berkeley, Crocheron told the story to some 
newspaper men and the call for wives went out over the United 
Press lines. Several answers were received but only one 
wedding resulted. It proved to be a very happy affair. This 
was one of the extra-curricular activities of the Extension 
Service. ( Laughter ) 


Packard: My own technical field was soils and irrigation which 

quite necessarily involved problems of land settlement, credit, 
and tenure. There was considerable concern in the state over 
the problem of growing tenancy. Due to my prior interest in 
the All American Canal in Imperial County I became involved 
in a prolonged controversy over plans for developing the 
Eastside Mesa and the Coachella Valley which would become 
irrigable from the new canal. I opposed opening the Mesa 
to settlement on the traditional pattern because of the 
extremely porous character of the soil which would, I thought 
create a serious drainage problem, not only for Mesa land, 
but for all of the area of the Valley adjacent to the Mesa. 
As a result of these unfavorable conditions, the Mesa has 
never been developed and is now used by the armed services 
for purposes requiring wide open and unoccupied space. 

George Kreutzer, who had worked with Elwood Mead in 
Australia, was the first Farm Advisor in Kern County and 
later became the superintendent of the first State Land 
Settlement at Durham in the Sacramento Valley. One of 
Kreutzer "s projects was the introduction of an auction system 
of marketing hogs locally. Instead of shipping hogs to 
Los Angeles or other markets, farmers would bring their 
hogs to central points where buyers from competing concerns 
would bid against each other. The hogs were classified 
into marketing groups as a means of getting the best prices. 
The system became very popular. 


Packard: Paul Dougherty, the first Farm Advisor in Imperial 

Valley, is another associate whose path I have crossed since 
those early days. Paul, along with Knowles Ryerson, resigned 
from the Extension Service and enlisted in the army for service 
overseas in World War I. I sought Ryerson s help in Paris 
when I was trying to organize an aid program for Armenia 
during the Armistice period following World War I and Paul 
became a settler on the Delhi project while I was superintendent 
of that project. 

Harriet Eddy,*who had been State Librarian in California 
was the State Leader of the Home Economics Division of the 
Extension Service. She was a very liberal minded and forth 
right person whose interests extended into the economic and 
political fields, as mine did. She was very much interested 
in the Russian Revolution and was employed, as a consultant, 
by the Russian government on two occasions to help in estab 
lishing the library system for all of Russia. Although 
as a neophyte socialist I shared her sympathy for the revolution, 
I never accepted the communist philosophy for reasons which 
will become clear as I proceed with this account of my life. 
I should mention here that Harriet Eddy gave me a letter of 
introduction to her cousin Lincoln Steffens, which I delivered 
to him in Paris, which led to many interesting experiences. 

Baum: Well, maybe she s unsold now. 

Packard: No, I don t think so. I haven t seen her for years. I under 
stand that she is completely deaf now but retains an unquenchable 

* Miss Eddy wrote and published a story of her work in Home Econ 
omics for U.C. Extension, entitled "County Free Library Organizing 
in California-1909-1918: Personal Recollections". 


Packard: enthusiasm for the Russian cause. She recently celebrated 
her 90th birthday. 2 - 

My own interest in the Russian Revolution was not wholly 
impersonal. My youngest sister Esther and her husband, Phil 
Chadbourn, had returned from their assignment with the State 
Department in Russia and were of course the center of great 
interest. They were living temporarily with our family in 
Pasadena. Phil s new assignment was to be a free-lance 
political agent for the State Department in Irkutsk, Siberia, 
where he was to report on any things pertaining to the war. 
He decided to come to Berkeley and stay with Emma and me 
while he was gathering the clothes and other things he would 
need in Irkutsk. We were all startled, not to say dismayed, 
by a telegram from Secretary of State Lansing saying, "Your 
appointment Irkutsk cancelled." Nothing else. 

There was nothing for Phil to do but to return to Washington 
to find out what had happened. So he and I went to Los 
Angeles where he could confer with Esther. The Los Angeles 
paper, the morning we arrived carried big headlines saying 
that Rhys Williams, who was on his way back from Russia 
through Vladivostok, was to be arrested the minute he landed. 
The next thing we knew came from a telephone call to my mother 
from Los Angeles. No names were mentioned but the voice was 

2. Miss Eddy died since this was writtenMemorial Services 
were held on the U.C. campus in February 1967. 


Packard: familiar. It was the same Rhys Williams who had spoken to 

the farmers meeting on the Experiment Farm. After hasty con 
versation, it was arranged that I would drive Phil into Los 
Angeles where we would pick Rhys up and I would then put 
them both on the train for Washington from Riverside. This 
I did with no untoward incidents. 

On arriving in Washington, Phil found that he was every 
thing a person should not be in those days. He could get 
no official charge or information of any kind as to why he 
had been dismissed. So he enlisted in the army. And when 
it was found that he knew some Russian and had been in Russia, 
he was given the Russian Desk in the War Department which was 
located in the same building which housed the State Department 
which had just dismissed him. The first day in office he 
found a folder marked "Phil Chadbourn" . He told his commanding 
officer what had happened and was given freedom to open the 
file and examine the contents. He found that the State 
Department had employed a society matron to go to Hollywood, 
rent a house, and get what information she could through 
elaborate entertainment. Phil had been her guest on one or 
more occasion and everything he said was recorded. The most 
damning statement was in answer to her question, "What can 
I do for the Revolution?" The reply was, "I think you would 
make a wonderful queen of the mint- juleps. " Phil remained 
at the Russian Desk for the rest of the war. 

After some months in the Extension Service I began to 


Packard: realize that the underlying problems facing farmers are 

economic rather than technical. Markets, credit, mortgage 
debt, and tenure problems were keeping many farmers from 
doing what they knew they ought to do on the farm but couldn t 
because of lack of capital. Settlers coming into the state 
had been having a hard time for years, in part because of 
inflated land values and badly planned, sometimes dishonest, 
promotion schemes. I became greatly enamored with Dr. Mead s 
land settlement proposals. It seemed to me that he was 
dealing with basic issues. His land settlement plans were 
being widely discussed in national magazines and were the 
subject of months of study by the Commonwealth Club. The 
Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane, was ready to 
adopt the Mead plan in handling the anticipated demand for 
land by returned soldiers following the war. 

So, when the Army Educational Corps was organized and 
farms for soldiers became one of the accepted subjects for 
educational meetings to be organized among the soldiers in 
France while they were waiting for shipment home, I was selected 
as the one to join the Corps. At the end of the annual 
week s trip of Farm Bureau members from all over the state, 
which ended in Los Angeles, I was presented with a very 
attractive gold watch chain and attached pen knife at the 
final banquet, as a farewell present. 

My change in plans did not end with the special assign 
ment. When I returned I was to become a member of Dr. Mead s 


Packard: Division of Rural Institutions. But, in preparation for 
this new work I was given a sabbatical leave for a year s 
work in economics at Harvard University. So ended my Extension 

career . 



Army Education Corps Lectures 

Baum: Well, we re all set to begin with when you went into the 
Army Educational Program. 

Packard: Yes. You know, after the Armistice in November, 1918, the 

pressure on the Agricultural Extension Service for increasing 
production for the war effort was slowed down, of course. 
There was no need for increasing production any more. But 
there was a great deal of attention being paid to the veterans 
who would appear on the labor market in a little while- 
looking for jobs and opportunities for making a living. Since 
giving land to soldiers was a great thing after the Revolutionary 
War (Where the Crown lands and lands of some of the 
Tory estates were broken up and distributed to veterans of 
the war) and since the Homestead Act was signed in 1861 to 
give farms to soldiers after the Civil War, it seemed logical 
to a great many people that there would be another demand 
for farms after the First World War. Since all the good 
homestead land was gone there wasn t any more of the free 
open West to settle it was necessary to think of reclamation 
projectsdrainage , flood control, cut-over land reclamation, 
and irrigation. So the Interior Department decided that since 
it was responsible for the Bureau of Reclamation, it was quite 
important that they do something for the soldiers who might 
want land. 


Packard: Elwood Mead, an early pioneer in the reclamation field 
in the United States, had just returned from several years 
of land settlement work in Australia and had become head of 
a new Department of Rural Institutions of the College of Agric 
ulture of the University of California. He was giving wide 
publicity to a new plan of land settlement which he had pro 
moted in Australia. The outstanding features of the plan 
were long term payments, (34 years on land debt and 20 years 
on improvements); low rates of interest (57 at that time 
seemed low) ; subdivision of the land into farms of various 
sizes, dependent upon the character of the soil and crops 
to be raised; free technical assistance in planning farm 
operations, building problems, controlling insect pests and 
plant diseases; and providing other services needed by new 
settlers on reclamation projects. It was assumed that these 
services would be especially needed in the case of veterans 
who wanted land but had had no practical experience and 
possessed little capital. 

Franklin K. Lane, a Californian, was the Secretary of 
Interior and favored the idea of having the Bureau of 
Reclamation expand its functions by taking on responsibility 
for providing farms for soldiers. The Mead plan was to be 
the pattern to be followed. An Educational Corps had been 
established as part of the A.E.F. to give lectures and to 
organize classes in the camps in France where thousands of 
soldiers were waiting for ships to transport them home. This 


Packard: seemed to be a good chance to present the back-to-the-farm 
program which Secretary Lane, Mead, and others had planned. 

Since 1 was interested in land and water development and 
believed in the Mead land settlement program, I was selected 
to go to France to present the plan to the soldiers. Frank 
Adams and Professor Ernest Babcock were also selected for 
other special missions in the Educational Corps. 

This change in assignment ushered in a completely new 
program for me. I was given a special leave of absence to 
be followed by a sabbatical leave to be used in taking a year s 
work in economics at Harvard to prepare me for a position 
in Mead s Department of Rural Institutions. 

My contract with the Educational Corps called for a 
monthly payment of $250 .iOO to Mrs. Packard and a $4.00 per 
day spending allowance for me in addition to room and board 
in army camps. So, after getting the family settled in 
Pasadena for the duration, I left for New York. I stopped 
in Washington to talk with Bureau of Reclamation officials 
and to pick up slides and three movie reels showing reclamation 
projects. I met Secretary Lane, who gave me further information 
regarding his soldier settlement plans. I was inducted into 
the Educational Corps through the National Y.M.C.A. in New 
York as an extension of the war work the Y had been doing. 
I was given an overseas uniform and was briefed on what to 
expect and how to act. 

I took time out to go to Cambridge to arrange for matric- 


Packard: ulation at Harvard when I returned. My spare time was spent 
in visiting my sisters, Stella and Laura, who were living in 
New York, and I was introduced into some of the life of 
Greenwich Village through Frances Adams who was then engaged 
to Alex Gumberg. 

One incident comes to mind which I thought quite amusing. 
A preacher from upstate New York was in a fix. He had been 
recruited by the Y.M.C.A. to talk on national parks but the 
Army people told him that he would have to get a more vital 
subject to qualify. They suggested that he might give some 
lectures on Russia. He told me that the only things he knew 
about Russia concerned the much talked about plan for the 
nationalization of women. I told him what I knew about Russia, 
which was very little of the type of thing the Army would want 
him to discuss. At any rate he was on shipboard when we 
left New York two days later. I was told by Frances Adams 
that Rhys Williams brother was to be on the ship. I took 
pains to look him up and he reciprocated by avoiding me 
because he did not want to be associated with his brother 
in the minds of his supervisors in the Educational Corps. 
( Laughter ) 

We crossed on the Great Northern, an 18,000 ton liner 
formerly belonging to a Canadian Pacific line. The passenger 
list consisted almost wholly of personnel of the Army Educational 
Corps. The trip was uneventful except for interest created 
by having mine sweeps attached to the prow of the boat a day 
or so before reaching Brest. They consisted of steel cables 


Packard: attached to devices which held the end of the cable well 
outside of the ship s course. 

We landed at Brest and went directly to Paris where 
I reported for duty. A few excerpts from my first letter 
home may be worth recording: 

It took me an hour and a half to get through 
the red tape at the railroad station at iSrest. 
Everyone had to look after his own baggage and 
that was quite a job for me since I have boxes 
of slides and three movie reels given to me by 
the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington. We 
rented blankets and pillows at two francs 
apiece from a woman at the station. Two cars 
were reserved for Americans but we had a hard 
time getting seats. Those who could not get 
seats had to stand in the aisle all night. 
I had a compartment with three other men, one 
from the Department of Agriculture and two 
Red Cross officials. We took some sandwiches 
and a bottle of wine along because if you 
left your seat someone else would grab it. We 
tried to make ourselves comfortable with our 
feet all entangled in each other s seats with 
the blankets covering the bunch. 

We passed through a most beautiful 
country. The hills are all green and the trees 
are just sending out their leaves. The houses 
are all of stone and are surrounded by vines, 
gardens and trees. The trees are all stumped 
off about twenty-five feet from the ground every 
two years in order to get kindling wood and 
brush. Some of the brush is used in making 
crude brooms and some for faggots. The quaint 
little towns nestled down in the valleys are 
most picturesque. The houses all have slate 
roofs and are usually two or three stories high 
with no porches and with all the windows covered 
with blinds. 

. . .We passed trainloads of soldiers going 
home. They were all packed in those funny little 
stubby French freight cars that you have heard 
about .. .with "eight horses or forty men written 
on the sides. They all seemed mighty cheerful... 
When we got to Paris we checked in at the hotel 
de la Grande Bretagne on fourteen rue Carumartin 
where we got rooms for twelve francs apiece. 


Packard : 

The breakfast of bread (no butter) , coffee 
(that was atrocious), and two eggs cost us 
six francs or about one dollar. The taxis 
cost thirteen francs but four of us divided 
it and one of the men, who could speak 
French, knocked the price down from eighteen 

When I reported at headquarters I was transferred 
from YMCA jurisdiction to the A.E.F. and given a Sam Brown 
belt to signify that I had officer rank. I never quite 
got used to the saluting and all that, but I did enjoy 
eating at the officers mess and having a cot in the 
officers quarters. 

One evening in Paris I was having supper alone at a sidewalk 
cafe where I was joined by an American in civilian clothes. I 
had spotted him as an American when I saw him coming but he never 
said a word. He sat opposite me at the table and began ordering 
his meal in French. The waiter failed to understand so my new 
friend laid the menu down and looked at me and said in a disgusted 

tone, "The son of a can t understand his own language. "[Laughter] 

He must have recognized you as an American, too. 
Yes, of course, I was in uniform. 

Oh,how were you addressed? Were you just mister or something else? 
Just mister. The amenities thus met, conversation with my 
dining companion began and continued till midnight. I found 
that he was a reporter for the Paris edition of the Chicago 
Tribune. We went to his room after dinner where I gave him 
my story which appeared on the front page of the paper the 


Packard: next day. This was quite a break because the paper was widely 
read in the camps. I agreed to answer all letters which might 
come in as a result of the advertising. Later on similar 
articles appeared in Stars and Stripes . But I soon found out 
the sentiment expressed by the song, "How are you going to get 
them back on the farm after they ve seen Paree", was very real. 

I was sent to the Army Educational Corps headquarters 
at Beaune , France, where I was assigned to the Citizenship 
Division under the direction of Dr. John Kingsbury who was the 
commanding major of the American Red Cross Corps in the A.E.F. 
in France. His early training and experience were in the 
educational field, but his interest in people led him into 
social service work. He eventually became Commissioner of 
Public Charities in New York City. I found that he had been 
a socialist all his life and was very much interested in what 
was going on in Russia. My assignment to Dr. Kingsbury s 
division caused some jurisdictional trouble because Dr. Kenyon 
L. Butterfield, president of the Massachusetts Agricultural 
College, wanted me in his Vocational Education Division. In 
a letter home I had this to say, 

Yesterday I had a wonderful ride through the French 
countryside. The party consisted of Butterfield, Mr. 
Mason S. Stibem, Lt . Governor of Vermont, Mr. Dougherty, 
of New York City, and me. We started out with a good 
French road map, and an army Cadillac and a soldier to 
drive it. We drove from Beaune to Molay for dinner, 
then to Autun, on to Etang and back to Chagny for supper, 
getting back to Beaune about nine-thirty that night. 
I have never seen country quite like this although it 
resembles some of the prettier parts of California. The 
country is all rolling, with little towns nestled in the 


Packard: trough of valleys or perhaps perched up under some rocky 
palisades. The hills look like checkerboards with the 
very small fields all planted to different crops. The 
houses all have red tile roofs which make a wonderful 
picture with the contrasting green background." 

Dr. Kingsbury won out in the controversy on the theory 
that he could contact more people in his broad citizenship 
program than Butterfield could in his restricted agricultural 

I went from camp to camp, usually by auto or a motor 
cycle with a side car. After giving my talk I would ask for 
questions and invariably the first question would be "When 
do we go home?" ( Laughter ) It was very evident that few 
soldiers wanted to go onto reclamation projects. Jobs in 
industry were more attractive. The record showed, however, 
that I spoke to a total of 4,859 soldiers and secured the 
names and addresses of 498 who wanted more information. 

Baum: Was all this delay in getting the boys home simply due to the 
lack of shipping space? 

Packard: Yes. In spite of efforts to crowd as many men onto a ship 
as possible there were not enough ships to take everyone 
home at once. I, for example, returned on the Emperator 
with 12,000 aboard. The war was over and the soldiers, quite 
understandably, wanted to get home as soon as possible. 

Baum: They didn t want to spend another couple of months in Europe 
sight-seeing, on the Army? 

Packard: No. They had seen enough and just wanted to go home. 

I was often accompanied on these trips by other lecturers 


Packard: who usually made good company. But one time I was stuck with 
a professor of history from Harvard who wanted to see every 
historical place in France. I was with him in Blois where 
we rented a horse and buggy and drove to every point in town 
mentioned in his Baedecker. As soon as he was sure of the 
place he would mark it off and go on to the next stop. We 
never went inside. All he wanted was to be able to say truth 
fully that he had seen each place. ( Laughter ) 

I missed the train out of Blois and had to stay overnight. 
In a letter to Mrs. Packard, I had this to say, 

I enjoyed seeing this French town wake up. First the 
street sweeper appearedan old man with a broom made of 
tree twigs tied to a long handle. A few shopkeepers 
opened up and people began to open the shutters to the 
windows to air out. (They all sleep with windows and 
shutters closed.) Refuse from the kitchens was dumped in 
piles in the street where dogs and "beachcombers" had a 
chance to pick up a few morsels of food. The garbage 
collector came last with his wagon and shovel. By 8:30 
the town was in fair working order. 

The Educational Corps work was stopped within a month 
after my arrival, for reasons which I never understood. Tons 
of textbooks and the like were in the warehouses unopened and 
hundreds of people like myself were given a vacation of thirty 
days on pay before being sent home. 

Plan to Rehabilitate Armenia 

Packard: I took a train for Paris with an idea of finding something 
else to do. When I arrived at the Paris station, who should 
I meet but Dr. Kingsbury. He told me he was going to Russia 
for the Near East Foundation. What was I going to do? I said 


Packard: "I m going to Russia, too." On being asked who I was going with, 
I said, "You." ( Laughter ) 

I had quickly conjured up a plan of action after I found 
that Russia, in this case, meant Armenia. I outlined a plan 
for using army tractors and farm equipment, then in France, 
in preparing land for planting in Armenia where the workstock 
had been killed or taken away by the Turks. I told Dr. Kingsbury 
that I thought production programs could be organized in 
villages where the work would be supervised by American soldiers 
experienced in handling tractors who might like such an assign 
ment. We discussed the plan during dinner at a sidewalk 
cafe. Dr. Kingsbury was sufficiently impressed both with the 
plan and with the need for quick action that he proposed that 
we have a conference with Henry Morggnthau, head of the Near 
East Foundation, who was then staying at the Ritz. He secured 
an appointment that same evening. Mr. Morgenthau saw merit 
in the proposal but said that nothing could be done without 
Herbert Hoover s approval, since he was in charge of the Food 
Administration, then engaged in feeding starving people in 
Russia. He arranged for a conference the following morning 
when I outlined the plan to Mr. Hoover, who immediately approved 
the idea but said that it would be necessary to get President 
Wilson s approval before going ahead. 

The nature of the plan, including my employment as director 
of the work, is best presented by the following letter to Mr. 
Morgenthau and the proposed plan of procedure. 


Hotel Manchester 
1 Rue de Grammont 
Paris, France 

June 26, 1919 

Mr. Henry Morgenthau 

Hotel Ritz 


My dear Mr. Morgenthau: 

In accordance with your request I have prepared a brief state 
ment of the possible agricultural program for Armenia for 1919. 

The immediate agricultural problem is, of course, one of 
production. I feel, however, that a most important work lies ahead in 
the establishment of a sound agricultural policy for the future. A pros 
perous and contented rural population forms a strong basis on which to 
build a permanent government. Armenians appear to make industrious, 
capable, farmers and certainly offer an excellent basis for a successful 
rural development. 

Remarkable transformations have occured in rural Ireland, in 
Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Australia and New Zealand during the 
past few years, as a direct result of a wise use of agricultural lands. 
The United States is just beginning on a program of land settlement which 
will mean much for country life. If, in the organization of a new Republic 
in Armenia a proper foundation for rural development can be laid in the 
next few years, an important step toward stable government will have been 
accomplished . 

Mr. rf. Llew Williams in writing of the economic situation in 
Armenia in his book on "Armenia Past and Present" says "The economic dev 
elopment is perhaps the biggest task but it is not the most difficult. 
It is to secure for this population an opportunity for developing their 
industrial capacities and the economic possibilities of their land its 
vast mineral wealth, its agricultural possibilities, etc. Here experienced 
advisors and the financial aid of the Powers will be necessary for an 
indefinite period. --At the same time it will be the duty of the Powers 
or of the new Government to save wealth of the land from greedy exploiters 
who aim at their immediate enrichment at the cost of permanent economic 
injury to the people as a whole." This expresses my feeling exactly. 

I would like to have an opportunity of directing the initial 
stages of this work. I feel that my work in California has been an ex 
cellent preparation for such an undertaking. Owing to my home circumstances 
I could not accept the position, however, for less that $5,000.00 a year 


- 2 - 

and all expenses and would expect whatever insurance you are accustomed 

to grant against the unusual risks incident to the work in that section. 

I would hope to complete the preliminary study and work by January 1920. 

My further connection with the work could be determined at that time. 

At present I would hope to return to my work in California on the completion 

of the task, leaving the work in Armenia to be carried on by whatever 

power receives the mandate for that section. 

Respectfully yours, 



Reports indicate that seed, power and tools are seriously 
lacking in Armenia at the present time, and that unless the situation is 
handled vigorously in the near future, another planting season will pass 
with but a portion of the land seeded. As ninety percent of the cultivated 
land, both irrigated and non-irrigated, is devoted to wheat and barley, 
the main task for the immediate future is to prepare as much land as possible 
for fall planting. Plowing usually begins in the early fall or late summer, 
after the first rains and continues until winter sets in, which in the 
lower and more favored valleys, is not until December. With the late start 
and facing the existing condition of the workers in Armenia, it would 
probably be impossible to seed the normal fall planted acreage, although 
by spring the operations could perhaps be so organized as to permit normal 

The present relief organization in Armenia is attempting the 
purchase of seed wheat, which seems to be available both north and south 
of Russian Armenia. This work would have to be continued until a sufficient 
supply has been secured. A small supply of garden seed for late summer 
planting should be purchased as there would be a possible opportunity of 
securing a certain production from small community gardens on irrigated 
tracts during the fall. Crops such as carrots, beets, early maturing 
beans, and grain sorghums, cabbage, lettuce and potatoes could be success 
fully planted if the work is not delayed. The advisability of attempting 
fall planting of truck crops depends upon the ability to act quickly. 
In case the seed was purchased and was not used , it could of course be 
saved for spring planting. 

The agricultural problems involved in the planting of the 
grains and vegetables should be in the hands of an experienced American. 
Many of the- methods .now so successfully used in the Farm Bureau work in the 
United States could be profitably adapted to the organization of this work. 
Producers and leaders in the various localities should be organized in 
their own interests and the work done should be done with their voluntary 
assistance . 

As horses and oxen are now scarce in Armenia, work animals 
should be purchased from neighboring countries and brought into Armenia 
for sale. This work should be under the direction of an experienced 
American who could work through native helpers in the regions entered. 
The extent of this work could not be estimated until a study of the sit 
uation has been made on the ground. The introduction of poultry, rabbits, 
dairy stock, cattle and sheep should also be undertaken and should be under 
the direction of the livestock specialist. 

* Report prepared for Henry Morgenthau 


In order to get quick action it would be advisable to purchase 
twenty- five or more tractors and a supply of farm machinery for immediate 
use. Both tractors and farm machinery, including plows, harrows, discs, 
and seeders can be secured in France. The harvesting machinery could be 
purchased later if conditions seemed to warrant. A large supply of hand 
tools, shovels, hoes and racks, should be purchased for immediate use. 
The Army has a very large supply of shovels on hand and the other material 
could be easily secured in Paris. 

Reports indicate that the irrigations systems in Russian Armenia 
have been badly damaged and in some cases quite wholly destroyed. An 
irrigation engineer should be employed to attempt a reconstruction of 
those ditches, where the task is not too great, and he should also make a 
very general survey of the country to ascertain the possibilities of thorough 
reconstruction and extension of irrigation and something of the need and 
possibilities for drainage. 

In order to carry out the production program satisfactorily 
some system of rural credits would be necessary. The small and large 
farmer alike will probably have to receive some aid in the purchase of 
stock and equipment. For temporary purposes the stock and implements 
purchased by the committee could be rented to those who could not buy, 
a crop mortgage being taken as a guarantee of payment. This problem 
would be one for the new government to work out, but a preliminary study 
of and contact with the situation would be valuable. 

As the work is being carried out data could be secured regarding 
the present size of holdings, the system of land tenure, tenantry problems, 
standards of living, standards of production both per acre and per man 
power, systems of rotation practiced, livestock methods and so on. This 
data could be assembled and compiled so as to serve as an indicator for 
immediate recommendations and as a basis for further study. 

Probably $150,000 would be necessary to carry the work along 
for six months, outside of the revolving fund necessary for the purchase 
of seed, animals and machinery. It would be impossible to tell in advance 
just how much of this money would be needed or how much of the money spent 
would be returned out of the crops produced. In undertaking the work it 
would be advisable to have at least that amount set aside for the agricul 
tural work in addition to the money needed for seed. 

The men needed in the work can be secured from the Army, thus 
saving the time necessary to recruit workers from the States. A good 
executive, who is well acquainted with tractors and farm machinery, should 
be employed at once to get the tractor work started. Both the Army and the 
International Harvester Company are ready to furnish bids on materials 
needed and no time should be lost in getting the material moving. An 
experienced agronomist should be sent to Armenia immediately to rush the 
purchase of seed and to lay our plans for fall work. A livestock man should 
be employed to direct the livestock work and should leave for Armenia just 
as soon as plans can be settled. An irrigation engineer should also be sent 
as soon as possible. These four lines of work must be begun at once if the 
fall work is to be successful. 


Packard: Mr. Morgenthau then asked me if I would be willing to 

make a quick trip through Armenia to get a firsthand picture 
of the problem. He said that he would arrange to send me to 
a western port on the Black Sea where a British navy boat 
would pick me up and take me across the Black Sea where I 
would take a train for Tbilisi. There I would be picked up 
by British motor car for a quick trip through the depressed 
farming areas of Armenia with occasional conferences with 
villagers and officials. I was to be back in Paris in two 
weeks or so. 

Baum: Who was financing this? 

Packard: Mr. Morgenthau. 

Baum: Privately? 

Packard: No. The money would come from the Near East Relief fund. 

Baum: Well, did you make the trip? 

Packard: No. There was one delay after another which stretched out into 
weeks. President Wilson ruled that nothing could be done in 
Armenia until a mandate had been secured which was expected 
anytime. While I waited I remained in Paris, where I met 
with delegations from Armenia , the Georgian Republic, and 
Azerbaidzhan; all of whom wanted American aid. 

On one of the conferences with the Armenian group, Dr. 
Main, president of Grinnell College in Iowa, who had just 
returned from Armenia as President Wilson s personal represent 
ative, came to the conference to report on what he had seen. 
The first question asked concerned President Wilson s attitude 
toward a U.S. mandate. The second question and answer were 


Packard: something like this. "Are the British troops still in Armenia 
to protect us from the Turks?" "Yes, they are. They are 
looking for oil and if they find it they will always be there." 
( Laughter ) 

I met Knowles Ryerson during this period and got him inter 
ested in the Armenian program. Several others became inter 
ested and were ready to join in the venture. Nothing came 
of it though. Kingsbury went back to New York on some Red 
Cross work. I saw Mr. Morgenthau late in June at his request 
and found him in a great rush getting ready to leave for 
Poland where he was to serve as Special Commissioner. He 
told me that Kingsbury was definitely out of the picture and 
that there was no one in Paris on whom I could depend. So 
I gave up the plan and devoted the rest of my time to seeing 
what I could of the battlefields. 

Baum: Mr. Ryerson had gone over before you, hadn t he? 

Packard: Yes. He was one of two from the Extension Service who had 
enlisted when the United States got into the war. Paul 
Dougherty was the other. Knowles went over as a forester, with 
a commission as second lieutenant. 

Baum: Wasn t Professor Ernest Babcock there? 

Packard: Oh yes, Babcock was there. Frank Adams, Babcock, and I were 
the three from the University sent over in the Educational 
Corps. Frank Adams and I were together several times. 


Sightseeing in France 

Packard: One evening we were on a walk some distance from the camp 
where we were staying to see one of the many cemeteries in 
France where American young men who had died in the war "to 
make the world safe for democracy", were buried. As we stood 
there, hats in hand, we heard the camp bugler play taps a 
mile or so away. 

I spent some of my "vacation" as a tourist. I saw Paris 
via the various tours organized by the Y.M.C.A. I visited 
a country estate with Frank Adams, and went on a wine-tasting 
tour through the Burgundy district with Kingsbury and two 
others, again in an Army Cadillac. I think it may be inter 
esting to read into the record some excerpts from letters I 
wrote at that time. 

I left Paris for Reims at 7:30 a.m. We went through 
Chateau Thierry and got to Reims about noon. We followed 
up the valley of the Marne for miles on the train and, of 
course, could see the shell holes and the wire entanglements, 
trenches and the remains of destroyed towns, torn trees 
and all the rest. It seemed strange that the grass should 
be so green and the flowers so bright in those fields 
where men were dying only six months ago. The brilliant 
red French poppies lined the trenches and covered the 
barbwire--as if they had been placed there on purpose by 
some divine providence. As we neared Reims the country 
was more torn but was nothing compared to Reims itself. 
I did not see a single house in that place of 120,000 
inhabitants that was not destroyed. Most of the buildings 
were entirely gutted by fire and explosions while many 
buildings were simply piles of stone and brick. It 
reminded me of the worst part of San Francisco after the 
fire--I never before realized how awful it must have been 
there during those days. When you see it, it is beyond 

I started for the Hindenburg line when we got as far 


Packard: as the cars would take us. I hadn t gone 200 yards before 
I was startled by an explosion in the field. A young 
Frenchman had picked up a hand grenade which blew him to 
bits. I saw hundreds of unexploded shells, hand grenades 
and aerial bombs, one fully fifteen inches in diameter, 
half -buried in the ground. It was hard to find a trail 
through the barbwire and required much climbing, jumping, 
and scrambling. 

When I reached the fortified Hindenburg lane I could 
hardly believe my eyes. There were miles of great stone 
walls, cement and stone cellars, sleeping quarters, 
kitchens, piles of shells, hundreds of yards of machine 
gun bullets all neatly placed in the canvas belts. Wires 
connected all of the places so that phones and electric 
lights could be placed where needed. I walked for a 
quarter of a mile through a tunnel, stone-walled and lighted 
by shafts every fifty feet or so. The tunnel was twenty- 
five feet underground and from it, on both sides, stretched 
great rooms, from twenty to sixty feet long and from twenty 
to thirty feet wide. The effect of Allied fire was, of 
course, evident and much of the work was rubble. 

The following exerpts from another letter tell of another 
trip to the trenches this time to the Soissons area where, 

"I saw the ground that had been taken by the First, Second 
and Thirty-fifth Divisions. It was all so terrible that 
I hate to think of it as it was. wfe started out from a 
little town called Anizy, just beyond Soissons in the valley 
of the La Vesle river. Chinese workers and German prisoners 
were busy in the neighborhood. The Y guide took us on 
a narrow gauge railroad, built by the Germans, to a 
point across the valley where we separated, each man going 
for the particular dugout he preferred. The forest was 
a total wreck. Most of the trees were dead although 
brush was growing up fast. Clogged-up water holes, 
fallen logs, barbwire and great shell craters, half-filled 
with water made going bad. German helmets were everywhere. 
The second one I saw still had the head in it. French 
and German rifles, clothing, shells, hand grenades and 
mortars, were there. The trenches followed just below the 
crest of the hill where the dugouts were protected from 
direct shell fire. We had candles to use in going through the 
long, low rooms of the dugouts. The old beds, much 
clothing, tin dishes, tables and all were there. I explored 
a dozen or so dugouts. Out of the hundreds of thousands 
of relics I could have taken, I carried away one French 
rifle, three German helmets, one American and one French 
helmet, three different kinds of bayonets, an empty revolver 


Packard: case, a half -filled cartridge case, two trench shovels 
still in their leather cases, an empty hand grenade, a 
German gas mask, and a mess kit. 

I was in Versailles the day that peace was signed and had 
better read another exerpt from a letter home. 

"Four of usProfessor Hamilton of the University of 
South Carolina (History), Professor Newens of Dartmouth, 
Mr. Johnson of New York (child specialist), and I went 
on a Y.M.C.A. conducted tour of Versailles. Although 
many special trains were running and the Y had a special 
train of its own, the cars were crowded to the limit. The 
compartment we were in usually holds eight but today there 
were twenty in it. The mob at the front gate of the 
palace prevented anything but a distant view of the lines 
of soldiers, the cavalry with pennants fluttering in the 
wind, with the airplanes buzzing or roaring overhead. We 
therefore went to the palace gardens in the back of the 
palace, passing on the way the building where the treaty 
of 1?83 was signed giving us our independence from England. 

I managed to get a ringside seat where I got a good 
view of the crowd, the garden, the fountains and the 
airplanes that circled overhead. There was nothing else 
to see until 3:30 when the bugles blew, the cannons roared, 
the fountains were turned on for the first time since the 
war. The crowd cheered and tried to sing the Marseillaise 
in tune with the snatches of music we could get from the 
band, above the general roar. President Wilson, with the 
other heads of state came out on the terrace for all to 
see. I got back to Paris about 6 p.m. and was interested 
in seeing the decorations in the station in honor of 
President Wilson and Lloyd George, who leave tonight. A 
rich red carpet was spread the length of the station and 
platform. Palms, flags, flowers and pennants made the 
place look like a garden. It s a great day for the people 
here, but I m afraid the treaty won t accomplish its high 
objectives. Tonight s papers say the British Labor Party 
denounces the treaty as too harsh on the Germans." 

Two days later I had the following to say about the 
celebration in Paris the night that the peace treaty was signed. 

"The celebration in Paris was terrific. Cannons boomed, 
the people flocked to the Place de la Concorde and then to 
the Avenue de 1 Opera, back and forth. It was just a moving 
mass of humanity. The Americans and Australians made most 
of the noise, but the British, French, and Italians did 


Packard: their part. Tipping up taxis seemed to be the main amuse 
ment. At one point a British diplomat was trying to get 
through the crowd in a taxi. Some Australians picked up 
the back end, letting the wheels spin. The occupant, who 
was wearing a top hat, stuck his head out the window and 
waved a little British flag. The Aussies reacted by tipping 
the taxi on its side which brought cheers from the crowd. 
More cheers followed when the diplomat emerged with many 
helping hands. ( Laughter ) Throwing confetti, kissing 
the girls and vice-versa, milling back and forth in columns 
of four or racing through the crowd in single file, 
Y girls, Red Cross girls, and girls of the street, gobs 
and doughboys, officers and privates all joined in the 
carnival. At exactly twelve o clock the orchestra from 
the opera house appeared on the steps and with the accom 
paniment of thousands of voices played the Marsiellgise, the 
Star Spangled Banner, God Save the King, and the Italian 
national anthem. A young private came up to me and said 
in a hoarse voice, "I landed in France in October, 1917, 
and this is the happiest day of my life." He expressed 
the feeling of everyone. 

I stood on one of those little islands in the middle 
of the street and caught the currents going both ways. 
There were many amusing incidents. One well dressed and 
rather pretty French girl climbed the electric light pole 
in the middle of the street and stood on a Y.H.C.A. sign 
about twelve feet above the crowd and sang, "Hail, Hail, 
The gang s all here, etc." A doughboy climbed up to join 
her. They both stood there, one arm around the pole and 
the other around each other and continued to sing, until 
the sign began to give way. The girl jumped into the 
arms of her officer companion while the doughboy slid 
down the pole. It was a great night. 

During this time I presented the letter of introduction 
to Lincoln Steffens which Harriet Eddy gave me in Berkeley. 
He was just back from Moscow and was full of stories about 
the Russian Revolution. I heard some of his accounts while 
sitting in his hotel room while he had breakfast in bed. I 
accompanied him, my brother-in-law, Phil Chadbourn, who happened 
to be in Paris, and two or three others to a radical party 
held in a tavern along the banks of the Seine. Every nation 
in the world seemed to be represented. Heavy drinking--bottoms 


Packard: up sort of thingwas a cementing influence. I managed to 

find a corner where I could stand and watch. Although I had 
become accustomed to drinking red wine with my meals and eating 
horse meat at French restaurants I was not up to the standard 
set by this crowd. ( Laughter ) 

Baum: Was there a lot of pro-Russia and anti-Russia feeling? Was 
that the excitement? Or was... 

Packard: The feeling of the group at the tavern was all pro-Russian. 
Among others whom I met in France the feeling was divided, 
some favored the Revolution, others opposed it. There were 
few neutral among them. My sister Esther was in Tsarist 
Russia long enough to recognize the need for revolutionary 
change. Conditions under the Tsar she thought were intolerable. 

Baum: You were in France quite a while, then, after the war. 

Packard: Yes, I was there about five months. 

Baum: Were Americans popular at that time? 

Packard: Oh yes, they were that is with most people. The railroad 
officials were not exactly happy over the habit of American 
soldiers buying a ticket to the first station out of Paris 
and then riding all day, pretending they could not understand 
French. I encountered one or two of those horribly officious 
tourist types who galled me as much as they did the French. 
They were men who had come over after the war but acted as 
though they personally had saved the "frogs" from disaster. 
I left Paris late in July going to Brest to wait for ac 
commodations on a transport going to New York. I was one 


Packard: of twelve thousand who returned on the Emperator--an eighty 
thousand ton former German liner that had been commandeered 
by the United States. The passengers included eight hundred 
Red Cross nurses and scores of French G.I. brides. 

On my way home I was with a very interesting group, all 
returning members of the Educational Corps. We all went to 
the Brevoort Hotel for a celebration and had quite a party. 
After gathering my civilian clothes and saying hello to 
my sisters and others I went back to California, first to 
arrange for my Sabbatical leave, including the payment of 
$150.00 a month allowance I was to receive, and second, to 
get the family ready to move to Cambridge. It was tentatively 
agreed that I would return to the University of California as 
a member of Dr. Mead s Department of Rural Institutions. 

Baum: So you hadn t sold any soldiers on the land but you had sold 

Packard: Well, yes. I had been selling the idea and I thought it was 
a good one. 

Baum: But it was your impression that most of the soldiers were not 
in the least interested in settling the land. 

Packard: Not in the least. They wanted jobs. They wanted something more 
interesting than going back onto the farm. As it turned out, 
their instincts, or maybe, judgements, were better than the 
reasoning of the theoreticians. Millions of family farm operators 
have moved off the land since that time and have been added 
to the industrial working force. As I look back on that 


Packard: period I realize that the whole world was on the threshold 

of a gigantic social revolution created by the new circumstances 
of an advancing industrial era. 

Baum: Had a lot of the soldiers been farmers? 

Packard: Oh yes, of course. Many of them had come from farms but they 
were usually sons of farmers and did not have to look for new 
land, and those from urban areas had no interest in becoming 



Baum: So following a trip to Berkeley, you and the family moved to 
Boston so you could prepare yourself to work with Dr. Mead 
at the University in the Department of Rural Institutions. 
As I recall, that was a pretty hectic period in Massachusetts, 
one which gave us our next President of the United States. 
Packard: Yes. When we got to Boston, the famous police strike was 
on in full force. The station was full of soldiers ordered in 
by Governor Coolidge. The whole city was under martial law 
which created quite a dramatic entrance for us. 

We took a streetcar to Cambridge and soon located a house 
that seemed to meet our needs. But it was coal heated and when 
the cold weather set in we found that it would heat only the 
kitchen adequately regardless of the tons of coal we fed into 
the furnace. ( Laughter ) After four months of this we moved 
to an upstairs apartment in a 300-year-old colonial-type house 
in remarkably good condition. We lived there for the balance 
of our stay in Cambridge. 

An Irish family had bought this house and had reconditioned 
it with two upstairs apartments. One thing we liked was that 
a "For Rent" sign outside said, "Children are Welcome." A 
young couple occupied the other upstairs apartment. He was an 
English major, who was both teaching and studying under Dr. 
Kittredge, a famous professor of English at Harvard. 


Packard: Emmy Lou started first grade at the Agassiz school at 

Cambridge. It was a favorite school for many of the children 
of Harvard professors. It was presided over by a wonderful 
Negro woman principal. She was a good administrator and had 

a wonderful understanding of children. When she died of cancer 


a few years later, a monument to her was erected in the school 
yard paid for by contributions from the hundreds who knew and 
admired her. 

Baum: When you went to Harvard you were a student? 

Packard: Yes, I was a graduate student in economics. I was officially 
under the direction of Dr. Thomas Nixon Carver, because he 
was an agricultural economist and that was to be my field. 
But in practice, I was far more influenced by Dr. Frank Taussig, 
under whom I took my first real course in economic theory. 
I took a course in statistics under Dr. Day whom I admired 
very much although I had more difficulty in his classes than 
in others because I had to brush up on mathematics which was 
not my forte. I also began a course in marketing in the 
Harvard School of Business Administration but dropped it 
when I became a tutor which required more time than I had , 
if I were to keep up in my other courses. 

I was fascinated with everything I was learning. 

Baum: Maybe you d always been interested in economics rather than in 
agriculture . 

Packard: Yes and no. I think I developed a comprehension of economics 
as a science that I had never had before. I can repeat what 


Packard: I said previously that I was a slow developer. I was aware 

of many social problems but the courses I had had in economics 
and philosophy at Ames and Stanford left me cold. I said 
previously, too, that I had become a socialist at Stanford 
but I realize now that it was more an emotional reaction to 
social injustice and political corruption of which I had 
become aware than a comprehension of a new social order. Terms 
which I had used began to be defined in my mind and I developed 
a sense of security in knowledge that I had never had before. 
This may have been rooted in some psychological reaction based 
on the fact that the religious beliefs and dogma that had been 
so much a part of my up-bringing had evolved and changed. 
Perhaps it was like this: I had retained the emotional reaction 
to problems affecting man s relationship to man that I had 
developed as a result of my early training and was beginning 
to understand something of the science of behavior. 

I have gone through a somewhat similar metamorphosis in 
my interest in agriculture. I was originally attracted by 
the life on a farm. When I was serving as superintendent of 
the Imperial Valley Experiment Farm I found that I was far 
more interested in the production end than in doing the pain 
staking work required in basic research and experimentation. 
After two years in Extension work I began to realize that the 
principal problems facing the farmer were economic rather than 
technical. After gaining more knowledge in the economic field 
and after trying to apply that knowledge in land settlement 


Packard: work, I began to realize that economics are but a means to an 
end and that the end is in the realm of philosophy. 

But to get back to Harvard. The first day in my course 
in the principles of economics, Dr. Taussig discussed single 
tax. I had had a feeling that there was something subversive 
about the idea, and was surprised to hear Dr. Taussig say that 
the greatest objection to single tax was that it had not 
been adopted in the beginning. Because it had not been adopted, 
vast vested interests had been established which offered difficult 
barriers to overcome. This gave me a certain feeling of confidence 
in the value of basic economic analysis. Some days later, when 
the question of our invasion of Russia was raised, Dr. Taussig 
said that what was going on in Russia was an extremely interesting 
social experiment which we should watch with interest, while 
being glad that the experiment was being tried in Russia rather 
than here. Ever since that time I have adopted Dr. Taussig s 
viewpoint toward communism. A third statement made by both 
Professors Taussig and Carver which deeply affected my thinking 
was that the next big field in economics would concern the 

In retrospect, I consider my year under Dr. Hilgard and 
Professor Etcheverry at the University of California and the 
year under Doctors Taussig and Carver at Harvard University 
to be the most formative periods of my life. 

I was very much impressed with Dr. Taussig s technique 
in making students think. He would lead the class through 


Packard: a series of what appeared to be obvious truths and would get 
everyone to agree that a seemingly obvious conclusion was 
correct. When no one objected he would raise some simple point 
which instantly showed that the reasoning was wrong and the 
conclusions unfounded. He employed this technique several times 
during the year and would end each time by saying, "I want 
you to think. I don t want you to go out of here without 
the ability to question conclusions and to analyze the facts. 
You will get just as high a grade here whether you agree with 
me or not provided you back your statements by properly reasoned 
analysis . " 

Within two weeks or so after entering Harvard I was employed 
as a tutor at $50.00 per month, an assignment which I could 
carry without interfering with my main purpose. I was to 
meet with a small group of students once a week for general 
discussions and assignment of reading. The purpose was to 
enlarge the students horizon. 

Baum: Did you meet with them individually or was this like a teaching 

Packard: I met with the group but was to give individual assignments. 

Baum: We have teaching assistants here at Cal. 

Packard: Yes, I know, but the two systems are not alike. The respon 
sibilities of the teaching assistants and the tutor are not 
the same. The tutors had no responsibility concerning class 
work, correcting papers and the like. 

Baum: A little more personal attention than you get here at Cal. 


Packard: Yes, much more. The tutor, in a sense, served as the students 
advisor. The responsibility was new to me but I must have 
done well enough because Dr. Taussig recommended me for a 
job as instructor in economic theory at Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology for the spring semester, an assignment which 
I thoroughly enjoyed. I had one hundred and twenty-five 
sophomore engineers. I assumed this responsibility in addition 
to remaining as tutor at Harvard. 

I might say that these two jobs helped me financially. 
The tutorial job made me a member of the faculty which saved 
me $600.00 in tuition, while the pay I was getting from Harvard 
and M.I.T., when added to my sabbatical pay, brought my 
income way above any salary that I had received before. 

Dr. Taussig must have thought he had a budding economic 
genius in me, because on three occasions when he was in 
Washington on some Commission business, he asked me to take 
his class which included some Rhodes scholars and several 
economists who had returned to college to catch up on current 
thinking. I must have passed the test because I was urged 
several times to consider an offer to remain at Harvard as an 
instructor while getting a Ph.D. degree. 

I have often wondered what would have happened to me if 
I had accepted that offer. I am inclined to believe that I 
made the right decision in turning the offer down. Just as in 
the case of the Experiment Station job where I was more inter 
ested in the farmer s problems and in production, rather than 


Packard : 


Mrs. : 

in research; I was more interested in getting into an action 
field than in teaching. I had been offered the job as super 
intendent of the second State Land Settlement project in Delhi, 
California, which, in a sense, combined my interest in economics 
and agriculture. So I accepted. I have had a lot of hard 
knocks as a result of this decision but I have gained some 
knowledge and experience regarding human behavior which I feel 
has been very valuable to me. 

The winter we spent in Cambridge was unusually cold and 
there was an unusually heavy snowfall. This, of course, delighted 
the two girls who had never seen snow before. We made family 
trips to places like Plymouth Rock, Salem and Concord, and 
tried to find traces of the ancestry of the Packard and Leonard 
families, both of which came from New England. 
Did you find many relatives there? 

No living relatives but some interesting tomb stones. ( Laughter ) 
Because Walter was on the faculty and was a visiting professor 
I became a member of the Harvard Dames, the wives of professors, 
and another faculty group made up of wives of visiting professors. 

I remember going to one of these Harvard Dames meetings 
where the advertised speaker wasn t able to come, so they 
got one of the members of the club who was from an old, old 
family and she gave a talk about her family. Well, to me, 
coming from the Middle West, it struck me as a very egotistical 
thing to do because nobody would dream about standing and 
entertaining a crowd about their own family. And her tale 






Mrs. : 

was that she went to this cemetery and that cemetery, and she 
found the family names there. And it was of great interest to 
the local group. 

Well, it can be very fascinating. Of course you had your 
Packard genealogy by that time, didn t you? 
Oh yes. 

I guess you could stand up with all of them if they wanted to 
talk about genealogy. ( Laughter ) 

I think Emma and I had more standing because we came from 
the University of California than because of ancestry. But 
the fact that both of our families were connected in signif 
icant ways with the history of the colonial period didn t 
hurt. The University of California had a high rating at 

It would be a mistake to end this chapter without saying 
more about the rather exciting atmosphere during the time we 
were in Cambridge. The Palmer raids were on and Emma was able 
to attend some of the "red" trials in Boston. 
At the trial they brought up those young people who had been 
arrested in that raid the police went into homes early one 
morning and rounded up hundreds of them. And I remember going 
to a meeting where Felix Frankfurter, a young man then in 
Harvard, was one of the men who conducted the hearing. The 
only one I remember was a big, fine looking young man with 
a long full beard and they kept after him. He spoke broken 
English and they kept asking him about his connections. He 


Mrs. : 

Packard ; 


had on a red necktie and they said, "Do you wear a red necktie 
because of the Revolution?" And his reply was, "I do not 
understand revolutions by necktie." ( Laughter ) 
What were these raids about? 

It was an hysterical period. There was a general fear of a 
Marxist red plot to overthrow the government. The police 
strike in Boston added a sense of reality which frightened 
many. The Allied armies were attacking Russia and Wilson 
was fighting for his League of Nations. "Back to Normalcy" 
became the general slogan. Probably the most exciting meeting 
I have ever attended was held in Faneuil Hall when Raymond 
Robins, who had just returned from a Red Cross assignment in 
Russia, told of his experiences. 

In a letter to my mother dated November 20, 1919, I wrote 
the following account: 

"Last week on Armistice night we attended a meeting 
in Faneuil Hall protesting against intervention in Russia. 
We knew it would be largely attended so we went about 
6:30 p.m. and arrived at the doors an hour before the 
meeting was to begin. We couldn t get within twenty feet 
of the doors which weren t open yet. So we got as near 
as we could and waited half an hour more. By that time the 
crowd had gathered another twenty feet behind us and when the 
doors opened they began to push! I never was in such a jam 
in my life and hope I never will be again. Luckily I was 
tall enough not to have all the breath squeezed out of me 
as some of the small women did. They screamed and begged 
the crowd not to push, but no one stopped. I went only 
about an inch a minute but I was puffing and blowing from 
the squeezing I got when I finally got into the doors. My 
arm was so pinched in that it went to sleep. The papers 
said thousands were turned away and I don t doubt it. My 
umbrella was smashed from the pulling and hauling but I m 
thankful that it wasn t my ribs which got broken. 


Mrs. : Raymond Robins, head of the Red Cross in Russia was 

Packard the principal speaker and it was the most thrilling address 
that I have ever heard. About seventy-five per cent of 
the audience were Russians and the rest in sympathy, judging 
from the applause. He spoke for an hour and a half and 
told things that should make every American ashamed of the 
part we have played in Russia. Harvard Crimson, the 
daily college paper, has protested to President Wilson 
asking him to take troops out of Russia at once. To hear 
a man begging for human rights in the old hall that saw 
such stirring times in our own Revolution was quite strange. 


Left to right: Walter E. Packard, Superintendent of Delhi Land Settlement; Dr. Elwood Mead, 
chief of Division of Land Settlement; George C. Kreutzer, Superintendent of Durham Land 
Settlement. July, 1921 



Beginnings of the State Land Settlement Board and the Durham 
and Delhi Land Settlement Projects * 

Packard: Although I had expected to return to the University of 
California as an Associate Professor in the Department of 
Rural Institutions when I finished my work at Harvard, I was 
offered instead the position as superintendent of the Delhi 
Land Settlement Projectan appointment which I readily accepted 
because I wanted to be in an action program. I was in fact 
quite intrigued by the opportunity I felt the job presented. 

Baum: Now you got there in...? 

Packard: July, 1920. 

Baum: That was a very bad economic year, as I remember. The bottom 
fell out of the rice market and the sugar market. 

Packard: Yes, it was a bad year, but what is still more important is 

that it was the beginning of the great agricultural depression 
which continued until World War II brought back the demand 
for farm products. This fact illustrates one of the weaknesses 
of the whole approach to the farm problem. There was no adequate 
statistical background on which to base the sort of planning 
that was needed. The Mead plan was being written up in national 
magazines as the answer to an assumed demand of people for 
farms in the West. 

Baum: Was this designed primarily, do you think, as an answer to 

* See ROHO interview, "A Life in Water Development", Sidney 
T. Harding, 1967, pp. 186-204. 


Baum: settlement in California or was it primarily to help veterans? 

Packard: It was primarily settlement in California, although the Delhi 
Project was used in part to provide farms for veterans. 

Baum: Veterans were secondary? 

Packard: Yes, the veterans were a secondary consideration. Ever since 
the days of Henry George, land speculation had played a bad 
role in the state. Poor land and land without adequate water 
had been sold to unsuspecting settlers at exorbitant prices. 
It was thought by those who favored the Mead plan that the 
mistakes and swindles of the past could be avoided by having 
the State Land Settlement Board establish a series of land 
settlement projects where the interests of both the public and 
the settlers would be protected. It was thought also that 
these demonstrations of how things should be done would 
affect future private development. 

The nature of the circumstances which led to the estab 
lishment of the State Land Settlement Board and the nature 
of the planning which preceeded the selection of land settlement 
sites are interesting in retrospect. In 1915 the State Legis 
lature passed an Act providing for the establishment of a 
Land Settlement and Rural Credits Board to make a report to 
the legislature regarding the situation existing in the state 
at that time. Elwood Mead, who was then in Australia, was 
called back by the University of California and was appointed 
Chairman of this Board which included, among others, Harris 
Weinstock a business partner of David Lubin, and an internationally 


Packard: known leader in agricultural thought, and Mortimer Fleishhacker , 
a prominent banker in San Francisco. 

Baum: I notice that Arthur M. Breed was the man who sponsored the 
Land Settlement Act. Do you know what his interest was in 

Packard: Mr. Breed was an outstanding State Senator from Oakland. He 
was sincerely interested in the land problem and remained a 
staunch supporter of the program during my period as superin 
tendent at Delhi. 

Baum: Was Mead an Australian? 

Packard: No. He had gone there as a leading reclamation engineer with 
wide experience in the Western States. 

Baum: I know he d done a lot of work in Australia. 

Packard: It was in Australia where he developed his land settlement 
plan. When Thomas F. Hunt became head of the College of 
Agriculture of the University of California, he immediately 
took an interest in the land problem and invited Dr. Mead to 
come to California to head the new Department of Rural Instit 

A commission held hearings in various parts of the state 
and presented a report to the Legislature which resulted in 
the establishment of the State Marketing Director s office and 
the passage of the Land Settlement Act, which authorized the 
creation of the State Land Settlement Board, with an initial 
appropriation of $250,000.00 to purchase land for a demonstration 
project. The Board advertised for tracts of land and had 


Packard: eighty offers. Professor Charles Shaw, head of the Soils 

Department of the University was asked to examine and report 
on the soil conditions in each tract. Professor Frank Adams 
was asked to examine the water supply and legal rights to water, 
and Dean Thomas F. Hunt and R. L. Adams, Head of the Farm 
Management Department of the University were asked to work 
with the Board in the final selection of sites. The Delhi 
tract was included in this first list. 

The first demonstration settlement was located at Durham 
because it was relatively small and could be financed under 
the initial appropriation of $250,000.00. The price of farm 
products was high at that time and there was sufficient demand 
for land to enable the Board to fill the colony with an experien 
ced class of settlers with sufficient money of their own to 
meet their obligation with minimum help from the state. 

Baum: Was the Durham settlement started before or after the war? 

Did they have a majority of veterans, is what I am trying to 
find out. 

Packard: No. The Durham colony was started before the end of the war 

and before the drop in farm prices. No veterans were involved. 
The Durham settlement was immediately successful under George 
Kreutzer s good management, which included a rare ability to 


understand the settlers problems and inner feelings. There 
seemed to be no good reason for not starting the second project 
as soon as possible. 

*Mrs . George Kreutzer is planning to write a biography of her 
husband, especially his work in California agriculture, and it 
is planned to deposit this in the Bancroft Library. Letter 
from Dorothy Kreutzer to Mrs. Baum, July 22, 1969. 


Selection of the Delhi Site 

Packard: The initial success at Durham together with the anticipated 
demand for land by returned soldiers seemed to justify the 
establishment of a second colony. An appropriation of 
$1,000,000.00 was made to carry out the idea. The Board 
again advertised for land and the Delhi property was one of 
ten offerings which possessed good soil and a good water supply. 
Being located in the Turlock Irrigation District with an 
excellent water supply and being crossed by the state highway 
and both the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe tracks, it was 
obviously well located. In order to determine the value of 
the land, a survey was made of three hundred farms in the area. 
The price of land ranged from $200.00 to $2,000.00 per acre 
with an average of $600.00 

On the basis of these facts the Delhi land was purchased 
and development began in the spring of 1920. The 7,000 acre 
tract was owned by Mr. Edgar Wilson of San Francisco and certain 
associates, including Mr. Seagraves who was in charge of land 
development for the Santa Fe railroad. The average price 
paid for the land was $92.50 per acre. It was producing 
practically no revenue. Some of the land was planted to barley 
and rye by tenants but the yields were very low without irrig 
ation. The land not in grains was rented for sheep pasture. 
Charles Shaw, head of the Soils Department of the College of 
Agriculture and in charge of the soil survery work in the 


Packard: state, made a careful study of the soils to determine their 
productive value under irrigation. Results, over the years, 
have proved his judgement to be sound. 

Baum: $92.50 an acre for undeveloped land? Wasn t that at developed 
land prices? 

Packard: No. The price was high for undeveloped land, but Professor 
R. L. Adams, head of the Farm Management Division of the 
University, made a study of land prices in the area previously 
referred to, and found the price of developed land to be 
comparable to the cost of Delhi land when all costs were included. 
When you add to the $92.50 cost per acre for the raw land, the 
cost of the pipe line that had to be developed to deliver 
water on to this sandy land and another thirty or forty dollars 
an acre to level the land, another twenty to fifty or sixty 
dollars an acre for essential, but minimum, buildings the 
total investment came to over $400.00 per acre, without 
including the cost of planting trees, and vines, or buying 
a dairy herd, or meeting the costs of family living during the 
development period. But when all of these costs are added 
together they were not above the market price of developed land 
in the area. Even if the land had been secured at a lower 
price it would have made no difference in the final outcome. 

Baum: I suppose both the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific were 

interested in this development. I think they are always inter 
ested in settlement along their lines, aren t they? 

Packard: Oh yes. The Southern Pacific showed its confidence by building 


Packard: a station at Delhi and by installing side tracks for freight 
cars . 

Some of the land was already included in the Turlock 
Irrigation District but the land was so rolling that it was 
impossible to irrigate all of it by gravity water. The area 
not originally in the district was brought in later. All of 
this new land was above the gravity ditch of the Turlock District 
and had to be reached by pumping. As a result of the rolling 
character of the topography, a cement pipe system was developed 
for the entire area. The pipes ranged from thirty inches in 
diameter to as little as six inches. Some of the system was 
under high pressure which required the installation of some 
rather high surge chambers to prevent damage from what is known 
as water-hammer. 

Baum: Was this gravity flow for most of the project? 

Packard: Yes, for most of it. 

Baum: Was this land bought because it was the only block of land 
that was large enough? 

Packard: No. Size was not the only factor. The tract was purchased 
only after a state-wide search for a suitable, undeveloped 
area. The Board decided that the Wilson property was the best 
that had been offered. 

Baum: You don t think there was any collusion between the Board and 
the owner? 

Packard: No, I am sure there was not. I feel quite sure however that 
the Wilson group thought they had put something over on the 


Packard: Board, because of a statement made to me by Seagrave s nephew 
at a chance meeting in Yosemite Valley. He said, "They sure 
put it over on the old man (Mead) didn t they?" It seemed quite 
evident that he was reflecting the attitude his uncle had 
toward the deal. 

But, in retrospect, you go back to the fact that the Board, 
after looking over all the available locations they could find 
in the state didn t find anything better than the Delhi property 
for price, water supply, location, and soil. One fact is 
evident however. The state was not able to buy land without 
paying for increments in value, which from a basic social 
standpoint should have gone to the state rather than to Wilson, 
et al, as land speculators. 

In retrospect, again, the error made by the Board was not 
in the selection of the land. The area, in 1965, is one of 
the most prosperous agricultural areas of the state. The 
error was in judging the nature of the times. The trend 
in both the state and the nation had been away from small farms 
and toward larger mechanized units and toward a planned control 
of production. The whole agricultural philosophy seems to me 
to be confused. A new philosophy will, I believe, emerge, 
based upon new ideas of some kind, an idea that I will expand 
toward the end of this biography. 

Improving the Land 
Packard: The engineering on the project was competently carried out. 


Packard: The many miles of pipe that had to be used were made on the 
project in a large pipe shed built for the purpose. Milo 
Williams, a college friend of mine at Ames, was chief engineer. 
Ernest Fortier, son of Dr. Samuel Fortier, the first Chief 
of the Irrigation Investigation Office of the U.S. Department 
of Agriculture, was in charge of the pipe making and installation. 
He had been active in this field for some years and was a 
recognized expert. Detailed topographical maps were made of 
the entire area and each settler was given a topographical map 
of his allotment to serve as a guide in laying out the irrig 
ation system. 

We used settlers on the work wherever possible in order 
to give them much needed employment during the non-income 
development period. They were used in digging trenches for 
the pipe, in hauling pipe to the field, and in leveling land 
which was still done with the use of four-horse Fresno Scrapers. 

Baum: Who did the work of making the pipe? 

Packard: A group of Yugoslavs were employed as individual workers. 

But most of the people who were actually working in the pipes 
were Yugoslavs. 

Baum: Were they settlers? 

Packard: No. Quite a number of settlers were employed in the pipe 
shed too. But the technical work was mostly done by these 
Yugoslavs who were experienced in handling the pipe machines 
and that sort of thing. 

Baum: Were they local people? 


Packard: No. 

Baum: Just cement workers that went around the country doing that 
kind of work. 

Packard: As superintendent I backed the engineers in the interest of 
efficiency and low costs. As a result, the pipe system was 
installed at a cost appreciably below the cost in any private 
project in the state at that time. John Jahn was in charge of all 
land surveys and in making subdivisions according to plans 
made by the engineers and approved by me and Kreutzer. 

Baum: Is this the lowest for pipe or the lowest for irrigation? 

Packard: The lowest cost per acre in the irrigated area. 

Baum: Because isn t a pipe system much more expensive than a ditch 

Packard: Oh, yes. But I meant the lowest pipe system. There was no 
other pipe system in the state at that time that was put in 
at as low a per acre cost as the system at Delhi. 

Baum: And why was the pipe selected? Was it necessary to put in 
a pipe? 

Packard: The pipe system was used for two reasons. So much of the land 
was rolling that it was necessary to use pipes to get water 
to isolated high areas. In the second place the sandy soil 
was so porous that open earth ditches could not be used because 
of drainage problems. Even as it was, seepage from the main 
Turlock District ditch and over-irrigation raised the ground 
water level in several low places to a point where water stood 
on the surface in limited areas. This problem was met by 


Packard: installing large pumps in the wet areas to pump the excess 
water into the pipe lines. 

Planning the Town of Delhi 

Packard: The Delhi townsite was planned by Professor John William 
Gregg, then head of the Landscape Division of the College of 
Agriculture. The planning followed the latest ideas of the 
time. The town was zoned into residential, business, and 
industrial sections. Land was set aside for a town park ad 
joining the schoolyard. The park area was to be located 
across the S.P. tracks to avoid a ribbon development of garages 
and the like along the highway. But, as the old saying goes, 
there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. The town 
plans were poorly executed. Now, as you drive down the highway, 
Delhi presents a very bad impression. One factor not anticip 
ated in the plan has been the influx of migrants from Oklahoma 
and Texas whose shacks present a look of poverty in sharp 
contrast to the prosperity of the farming community. 

Baum: So the town was planned as a center for a larger rural group 
than just the community of Delhi. 

Packard: Yes, that is true. It was to be a model residential town. 

Mr. Wilson donated $10,000.00 to build a community hall which 
was named after him. Professor Gregg used the Delhi plan 
in his classes to illustrate the principle of town planning. 
If the plan had been properly executed, Delhi could have been 
a delightful rural village. 


Packard: The roads throughout the colony were graveled by the 

County Board of Supervisors. The cost of this work was not 
charged against the settlers but was paid for by the County 
taxes. The graveling was necessary because of the sandy 
character of the soil. 

Two-Acre Laborer s Allotments 

Packard: A special feature of the Delhi plan called for the establish 
ment of two-acre laborer s allotments. This was an introduction 
from Mead s experience in Australia. The allotments were de 
signed to provide good housing, community services, and room 
for subsistence gardens, orchard, and chicken pens. Although 
the plan seemed to be a good one it never worked out in practice. 
During the development period the settlers on the labor allot 
ments were kept reasonably busy but when employment on farms 
provided the main support many of the allotments were taken 
over by others or abandoned. Again, the farm labor problem 
has not been worked out . 

Baum: This two-acre settler was to be a laborer on the other farms? 

Packard: He was to supply labor on the colony or on the outside, 
Wherever he could get labor. 

Baum: Was there any industry around there, anything that would use 

Packard: The opportunities for employment were very limited. During 

the canning season many farm laborers and other settlers secured 
jobs in the Turlock canning industry. But this work was 


Packard: seasonal and so, of course, was the need for work on the farms. 
Low Cost Housing: Architect Max Cook 

Packard: A special service, which began on the Durham project, was 
continued at the Delhi colony with great success. Max Cook, 
an architect who had specialized on low cost housing, was 
employed to advise settlers on their building program. No 
service rendered by the Board was more intimately connected 
with the settlers problems. The routine was as follows. 
When a settler would appear he would be ushered into my office 
where I would find out as much as possible about his plans, 
his financial resources and experience, and would go over his 
farm plans with him. Each settler was supposed to have at 
least $1,500.00 in cash or equivalent in useful equipment. 
With very few exceptions the settlers had ideas far beyond 
what they could do with their resources, even though the 
state Land Settlement law provided for loans up to $3,000.00 
for improvements. The first obstacle would be building. The 
settlers would say, for example, they planned on a two-bedroom 
house to begin with. I would go over a budget program covering 
the first two or three years which, with few exceptions, 
knocked out any possibility of having the kind of a house 
they wanted. 

This is where Max Cook came in. I would take the settler 
and his wife into Cook s office where he would show what could 
be done to cut costs. It often resulted in the building of 


Packard: the lean-to which would be part of an ultimate barn to serve 

a& living quarters until the farm income would permit expansion. 
In other cases, the first unit of a chicken house would serve 
as temporary housing units pending the time when the chickens 
would bring in enough profit to justify further investments. 
By the time they got through with Max Cook and came back to me 
they were very different people. ( Laughter ) They began to 
realize their money would not carry them through. 

Baum: They were realizing this was a pioneering venture. ( Laughter ) 
Packard: Yes, definitely. Some settlers were able to finance the devel 
opment work quite satisfactorialy , but such settlers had far 
more than the $1,500.00 minimum capital. 

After conferences with Cook and with me, many of the 
applicants decided against applying for allotments. In any 
case the final decision was made by Dr. Mead, representing the 
Land Settlement Board. The following excerpt from a newspaper 
account illustrates the procedure and presents some of the 
results . 

On December 15, 1920, officers of the settlement, 
including Dr. Elwood Mead, Chief of the Division of Land 
Settlement, and Walter E. Packard, Superintendent of the 
Settlement, will meet at Delhi to consider applications 
of those desiring to avail themselves of the opportunity 
to get on the land. This is the second hearing of applications. 
The first, held earlier in the month, received applications 
of forty candidates, of which twenty one were approved for 
farms, six applications were similarly acted on for farm 
laborer s allotments. About ten laborers allotments 
remain open to application. These farms have the backing 
of the state of California and may be had on terms and under 
conditions unequalled. Deferred payments extending over 
a period of thirty-six and a half years may be had if desired. 
In addition to this, the settlement has at its disposal 


Packard: the best agricultural supervision the state can provide. 
Among the applicants already approved, more than half are 
from California, several are graduates of the University 
of California or the farm school at Davis. In addition 
to these there are settlers from Illinois, Kansas;, and 
Indiana. The total capital of the approved applicants is 

After an application was approved Max Cook would prepare 
detailed plans and specifications which would provide the 
basis for competitive bidding. The service was unique and 
very helpful. The settlers saved many thousands of dollars 
as a result of Cook s careful work. 

A fact which impressed me in the competitive bidding was 
that a Swedish contractor from Turlock was consistently the 
lowest bidder whenever he chose to put in a bid. He was able 
to do this because he had a crew of skilled men who worked as 
a trained team. They were paid higher than going union wages 
but were able to cut final cost by their efficiency in getting 
the job done. 

As a result of the building program, the Turlock lumber 
company established a branch yard in Delhi at a location 
determined by the basic town plan. 

Baum: What did Mr. Cook do when he finished his work at Delhi? 

Packard: When the colony was finished he became an architect for the 
Redwood Association. He later moved to Walnut Creek, where 
he passed away some years ago. 

Baum: It sounds like his services could be used all over the world, 
in helping marginal people start to get established. 

Packard: Yes. Max Cook was a pioneer in this field. The essential 


Packard: principles which he developed were later adopted by the 

Resettlement Administration which employed a group of young 
and imaginative architects to direct the building program, 
including the construction of farm laborers camps to provide 
at least a minimum standard of camp facilities. 

Costs to the Settlers 

Baum: How did costs and payments work out for the settlers? 

Packard: The settlers were given thirty-six and a half years in 

which to pay for the land which included the cost of the pipe 
line, engineering and other costs. The graveling of the road 
on the colony was done by Merced County and not charged to the 
colony. Improvement loans covered a period of twenty years. 
The interest rate was 5% for all indebtedness. This was a low 
rate as compared to the going rate on farm loans at that time, 
not including the loans made by the Land Bank which, as pre 
viously mentioned, was established as a result of the same 
factor which led to the approval of the State Land Settlement 

The settlers were, of course, able to use the services of 
the County Farm Advisor and the Home Demonstration agent. 
Meetings with Extension specialists were frequent. 

Baum: Did the settlers pay for any of these services? 

Packard: No. 

Baum: It didn t come into the cost for their land or anything? 

Packard: No. The Extension Service was all free to the farmers. 


Baum: Well, the superintendent s pay and all that, who paid for 

Packard : My salary you mean? 

Baum: Yes, or your secretary or... 

Packard: Well, that all went into the cost of the land. 

An additional cost saving was by cooperative purchasing. 
Prior to the construction of the community hall, Mrs. Packard 
and I used our house as a meeting place. We helped organize 
a cooperative association which served the settlers in various 
ways. It was the center of the social life of the community. 
As I recall it, the association was responsible for twenty 
distinct activities, including the occasional showing of 
commercial movies and the organization of community dances. 
In the neighborhood of $40,000.00 worth of materials, including 
equipment needed by settlers, were purchased cooperatively 
at an estimated saving of from ten to twenty percent. 

Baum: How did Delhi compare in costs to the settler with Bureau 
of Reclamation projects? 

Packard: These special features of the Land Settlement Program were a 
marked advance over the settlement plan established by the 
U.S. Reclamation Service. Settlers on Reclamation projects 
had to rely on their own resources entirely. They got long 
term payment for water costs with no interest charge, but the 
Reclamation Act made no provision for loans and special services. 
As a result, it- of ten required a succession of failures by 
three or four prospective settlers before a going farm enterprise 


Packard : 

Packard : 


was established. The Bureau of Reclamation simply provided 
the water and the settler went out and fought his own battle 
completely. If he didn t have money he moved off and somebody 
else moved in. But at Delhi it was assumed that by having 
an opportunity to borrow up to $3,000.00, a settler would be 
able to develop his land, put up necessary buildings, buy 
livestock, and get the thing into operation without losing 
out. That was the theory. 

Gee, $3,000.00 doesn t sound like much to work on. 
$3,000.00 at that time was more helpful then it would be now. 
But they had their water system in. 

Oh, yes. The irrigation system went with the land. After the 
settler had signed the contract of purchase, all he had to do 
was move onto the allotment, level the land, plant whatever 
he intended to grow, build acceptable living quarters, provide 
for his living expenses pending the time when crops, or live 
stock could be sold. An appreciable proportion of the settlers 
had to secure outside work to survive the initial period. 
The agricultural depression, and the time required to get any 
returns from vines or trees, and the unsuitability of the land 
for quick growing cash crops were factors which contributed 
to the inability of a large number of settlers to meet the 
payments to the state. But this is getting ahead of the story. 
How much of this planning had been done before you arrived? 
Was the plan all finished before you came or did you have any 
part in planning it? 


Packard: That portion of the land lying along the Southern Pacific rail 
road had been subdivided into small allotments and offered for 
sale. As I recall it, there were about twenty-five settlers 
on the land when I arrived . But nothing had been done toward 
developing the irrigation system. Some alfalfa, and a few 
small vineyards had been planted. Water was supplied by tem 
porary pumping plants located along the Turlock Irrigation 
ditches . 

Environmental Problems: Wind, Rabbits, and Pests 

Packard: But no one had considered the damage that could be done 
by the strong spring wind storms. So when I arrived nearly 
all of the vine cuttings and alfalfa that had been planted 
were either killed or so badly damaged that replanting was 
necessary. I therefore encountered a spirit of gloom among 
the settlers, many of whom were unable to make their payments 
to the state. 

As a result of this initial record of damage by winds, 
everyone was wondering what would happen when the spring winds 
started again. These winds came from the north and blew for 
three or four days. 

When the first wind began to blow I got up at daybreak 
and drove to the nearest allotment down the highway. There 
I found the owner, Mr. Aguierre , and his neighbor, Rex Mocker, 
sitting on the lee side of Aguierre s barn. I said, "How is 
the alfalfa? 1 They both replied in unison, "It s all shot 


Packard: to hell." I suggested that we walk across the field to see 
what was happening. We found that the sand was not moving 
wherever there was a covering of weeds which Aguicrre had 
cut the preceding day. On the basis of this evidence, I got 
the two men busy spreading weeds, wherever the sand was beginning 
to move. Within an hour or so the whole colony was out with 
wagons collecting weeds and straw to scatter on any alfalfa 
field where the wind was apt to cause damage. At the same time 
we started the irrigation system going to lay the dust and con 
centrated the flow on all of the young vineyards. Both of 
these measures proved effective. As a result, no really 
serious damage was done by the first wind. On the basis of 
this experience we bought all the straw stacks in the neighbor 
hood to be ready for the remaining winds. Later we adopted 
a plan of disking loose straw into the ground in preparing 
alfalfa land for planting. 

Jack rabbits were a great menace at that time. There 
were hundreds of them. They would eat the young alfalfa and 
eat the young grape vines. So we organized rabbit drives. 
People would come in from as far away as Merced and Turlock. 
The men would line up about fifty feet apart, starting on the 
highway, and would then march as a line across the colony, 
shooting rabbits which would be picked up by boys and thrown 
in the wagons following behind the line. We d kill as many as 
six or seven hundred rabbits in a single morning s drive. 
We d have a big lunch prepared by the women at the old Ballico 


Packard: Hotel on the eastern end of the colony. We had a number 

of rabbit drives and greatly lessened the damage done by the 

Baum: It seems to me I read in Life Jttegazine about a drive like that 
that aroused a great deal of opposition from the S.P.C.A. 
Maybe that was after your time that people got so humane about 
rabbits . 

Packard: I don t recall any protests. It was a life or death struggle 
between settlers and rabbits. The dead rabbits were not 
thrown away. Some men were hired to skin and dress them for 
shipment to San Francisco where they were used in making 
chicken tamales. ( Laughter ) 

Baum: So you didn t waste them. 

Packard: No. We sold them to dealers and put the returns into the 
community fund. ( Laughter ) 

Baum: But chicken tamales. How did they get away with that? 

Packard: Rabbit and chicken meat are much alike. I suppose the tamales 
were prepared for the Mexican market in San Francisco. This 
enterprise did not last long because the rabbits developed 
a disease which made them unmarketable. 

Other pests appeared from time to time to bother and 
discourage the settlers. There was an infestation of army 
worms that would move across a field, taking everything with 
them unless stopped. The control method used was to plow 
a furrow across the field which served to concentrate the 
worms where they could be burned by gasoline torches made 


Packard: from knapsack sprays. Nematodes appeared on the roots of 
peach trees throughout the colony. No one knew what to do 
until, after I left the colony, the University developed a 
method of sterilizing the soil which killed the nematodes without 
injuring the trees. 

Baum: There s a whole department now at Cal which is devoted to this 
problem. They must be a terrible pest. 

Packard: Yes, they sure are. I was afraid for a while, that they would 
end peach growing at Delhi because of the sandy soil which 
favored nematode development. 

Another discouraging factor developed soon after the 
first planting of alfalfa. We found that the yields were 
very low, much below a paying yield. On the advice of the 
University I tried out the use of sulphur as a fertilizer. 
The suggestion was based upon an observation that alfalfa 
planted between trees which were sprayed with a sulphur spray 
did much better than alfalfa in adjoining fields. The experi 
mental results were very encouraging so I purchased a car load 
of sulphur and distributed it free to all alfalfa growers. 
The results were astonishing. Yields grew from two or three 
tons per acre to as much as ten to twelve tons. 

In part because of the problem presented by the Delhi 
soils, the Irrigation Division of the University of California 
under the leadership of Frank Veihmeyer established an experi 
ment station of forty acres on which to work out methods of 
irrigation and care and to try out various varieties of fruit 


Packard: trees. There was a close cooperation between all departments 
of the College of Agriculture and the colony. 

A series of events involving the University, the Delhi 
colony, and the over-all problem of planning can well be 
inserted at this point. It concerns peaches. The settlers 
were advised to plant cling peaches for canning. I, of course, 
supported this advice. As a result, practically all of the 
peach orchards at Delhi were clings. Almost exactly ten years 
later I was head of the Marketing Agreement Program of the 
Agricultural Adjustment Administration on the Pacific coast. 
Dr. Harry Wellman and Howard Tolley, both of the University, 
were the directors of the Adjustment program. In 1932 the 
peach growers in California had secured less than one million 
dollars for their entire crop and were facing disaster. We 
destroyed over 240,000 tons of peaches by letting them rot 
on the ground. As a result of this curtailment of supply the 
price of cling peaches rose to a point which brought a total 
of more than $6,000,000.00 to the peach growers of the state. 

Baum: Well, that was an extraordinary demonstration of an attempt 
to balance supply and demand. What happened next? 

Packard: That story can best be told later on when we reach that point 
in this account. 

If, in the beginning, we had paid attention to a natural 
demonstration of the adaptability of almonds we might have 
saved money and made faster progress. There was an old almond 
tree growing near an old abandoned barn which produced a crop 


Packard: of almonds every year. But we were not advised to plant 
almonds and went ahead with peaches and grapes. But at 
present Delhi is getting to be quite a center for almond 
production. Dallas Bache , one of the first settlers and 
a man who knew what he wanted from the beginning, is 
now a leading almond grower and dealer. He purchased 
the old State warehouse in Delhi which he uses for storing 
almonds. He was a very practical man who never lost 
faith in the colony. (See letter following) 

Baum: A better market for almonds than for peaches? 

Packard: Perhaps, but the main factor seems to be that the Delhi 
soil is particularly suited for almonds. 

Human Problems and Community Projects 

Packard: In view of the discouragement among the settlers 
as a result of winds, rabbits, and delinquencies, it 
was necessary that I meet any rumors regarding the adminis 
tration which might affect confidence. I say this because 
an incident arose soon after I arrived which had to be 
handled quickly. I found that the auditor in charge of 
the finance was using project money to level the land on 
a ten-acre tract that he had purchased in the neighbor 
hood and that he had used project funds to buy lumber 
for a house he was building in Santa Rosa. I called him 
and his assistant, Oscar Shattuck--a settler--into my 
office. I fired the auditor and put Shattuck in charge 


Delhi, California 
October 26, 1967 

Dear Mrs. Packard: 

Oscar asked me to write you in reply to your request for names, etc. 
The family was the "Beatty" family - Mrs. B s name was Matilda but she 
passed away several years ago - a real fine woman. John B is a realtor 
in Turlock, telephone Turlock 634 - 6281 and James (Jimmy) is Vice- 
President in Kaiser Co. , Oakland. We are not familiar with the location 
of the other boys (I should say men) of the family. 

Oscar is very frail. He is at present in Mercy Hospital in Merced as 
he fell one night and fractured his pelvis bone, but is healing rapidly 
and should be back home soon. He still has his almond orchard and is quite 
happy to live alone. Dallas keeps quite close touch with him. 

And by the way, the Delhi Women s Club (an offspring of the old 
Koinvor Club) has established a file of all the available old Delhi Records 
(in the early 1920 s, etc. pictures, etc.) and they are filed in the Delhi 
Water Company s office in Delhi. Mrs. J. Michalec is in charge of this of 
fice. If any of your U.C. people might be interested for research, I m 
sure they could peruse said papers. This office is open on Wednesdays at 
this time. Several Stanislaus College students have written papers on 
Delhi getting their material from this source. 

With best wishes, I am 


Naomi Brown Bache 

P.S. I forgot to mention that Oscar said to tell you he had made adjustments 
for Mrs. Beatty before he left the State Land Settlement years ago and every 
thing was acceptable and in good order. 

Mrs. Bache s address is Mrs. Dallas Bache 

14527 W. El Capitan Way 
Delhi, California 95315 


Packard: with instruction not to let the auditor back in the office. 
I then drove to Turlock to interview our banker and to 
stop payment on all checks, pending a solution of the 
problem. I then drove to Merced, the county seat, to 
file suit and to place an attachment on the ten acres. 
The sheriff was cooperative, and he put an attachment 
sign on the property that same afternoon, which was just 
in time because the auditor transferred title to his wife 
the next morning. 

Baum: What happened after that? 

Packard: I, of course, reported the incident to Dr. Mead who 
took the matter up with the attorney general. I was 
very insistent that the suit be carried through but, 
for reasons I never understood, nothing was done. My 
action and the Board s failure to act were, of course, 
known by the settlers. 

Shattuck remained as auditor from then on and I cannot 
say enough in his favor. He was efficient, loyal, and 
took an active part in community life, becoming among 
other things, the leader of the Boy Scouts. Years later 
he was honored by the community. He is now living on 
his 30-acre allotment which is planted to almonds and 
yielding a satisfactory income. 

At another time, also soon after I had taken charge, 
Max Cook, the architect, was charged by one of the settlers 
with having made a deal with a big lumber company in San 


Packard: Francisco which, the settler said would give Max Cook a bonus 
of some kind. I didn t believe it. I went to Cook and 
asked him, frankly, if he made such a deal. He had not, 
he said. So I phoned the man in San Francisco who had sold 
the lumber. And I got the settler and Max Cook in the 
car and drove to San Francisco to find the accused lumber 
company man. I made Jake Larang, the settler, tell his 
story. He found that there was nothing to it at all. Jake 
was convinced and so were the settlers who knew about that 
charge, as they knew about the difficulty with the auditor. 

Baum: This must have gained confidence in you among the settlers. 

Packard: Yes, it did. Whenever anything came up that might affect 
the confidence of the settlers, I went to any length to 
get the facts. 

When the third payment to the state became due and the 
number of delinquents had increased, I called a special 
meeting of all settlers in the old Delhi schoolhouse. I 
said that I knew they were worried on account of the growing 
delinquencies and that no one who was going ahead with the 
development of his allotment would be foreclosed. I had 
no authority from the Board to make such a statement, but 
I felt it was necessary and was sure that I would be supported, 
The following day the whole atmosphere among the settlers 
was markedly improved. 

That I was not considered to be soft on the settlers 
was indicated when the Turlock paper offered a prize for the 


Packard: best limerick. One of the contestants wrote the following: 

There was a young dictator named Walter, 
who came to Delhi to alter. 
He sold some sand and said it was land. 
To the state I am now a defaulter. 

In the early fall of the second year, the colony staged 
a big celebration. The Governor of the state and the members 
of the Land Settlement Board were invited and came. About 
1,500 people were fed at long tables erected in the pipe 
shed. The wives of the settlers provided pumpkin pie for all 
made from pumpkins grown on the project land. Vaughn Azhderian, 
our neighbor in Imperial Valley days, then living in Turlock, 
managed the barbeque; one steer and two lambs were used 
as I recall it. Vaughn cut the meat up into hunks about the 
size of cantaloupe, seasoned the meat thoroughly, then sewed 
each piece up in cheese cloth and then put the whole lot 
on top of gravel which covered the coals of an oak fire. 
The hole was covered with planks and gravel piled on top 
of the planks. When the cover was removed, after several 
hours of cooking, the meat was tender and delicious. Other 
attractions were exhibits by individual settlers of flower 
and garden products, including pumpkins and watermelons. 
After some speeches a tour of the colony was made by the officials. 

Baum: Were the settlers making a living aside from the money they 
weren t paying on their payments? Could they make a living? 

Packard: No, not yet. A good many of them were working for the colony. 
If they had a truck they were trucking pipe, or they were 


Packard: digging ditches. Most of the ditches for the laying of pipe 
were dug by hand. Some were working in the pipe shed. And 
we had three or four working in the office. Quite a number 
were being carried in that way. And they, of course, were 
paying up. They were not delinquent. 

Another factor which helped build morale was the issuance 
of the Delhi News , a little mimeographed paper that went 
out every week for several months and gave news of the 
settlement. It created a lot of fun because it was very 
personal, reciting incidents, funny and otherwise, which had 
occured in the community. 

Another community activity involved the planting of trees 
on both sides of the state highway for a distance of about 
six miles. The State Department of Forestry supplied the 
trees and staked out the location. Delhi settlers and 
business men from Turlock, Livingston, and Merced dug the 
holes with equipment supplied by the colony. The State 
Forester supervised the planting. All of the towns involved 
had declared a holiday for the occasion and the women of the 
colony supplied a lunch for everyone. The trees were black 
locust which grew to a height of twenty-five feet or more 
and made a fine showing especially during the flowering 
period until the widening of the highway in recent years 
into a four-lane freeway eliminated most of them. 

Baum: Well, that country can certainly stand a few trees. 

Packard: Yes. But for years, before the old highway was broadened 


Packard: the trees provided quite a sight. It was a very successful 
enterprise from that standpoint. 

One of the important features of the Delhi colony was 
the decision of the settlers to have but one breed of dairy 
cattle and to insist on T.B. tested cows. After weeks of 
discussion ,Holsteins were selected and all of those who 
were going into the dairy business agreed not to buy any 
other breed. Delhi was to be known as a Holstein community. 
Since there were to be no large herds and since artificial 
insemination was not yet developed, it seemed wise to have 
a community bull to be owned cooperatively. As in most 
situations of this kind, I, as superintendent, was appointed 
to serve on the bull committee. After some correspondence 
we found a bull on a Modesto dairy farm that seemed to fill 
the bill. He was, understandably, rather reluctant to leave 
when the committee appeared with a rather small truck. The 
transfer was managed without any serious incident, but the 
man who had promised to have a strong corral ready to receive 
the bull had done nothing. However, there was a large iron 
wheel, perhaps seven feet in diameter, which had been part 
of an old threshing machine lying on the ground. It was 
decided very foolishly, of course, to tie the bull to the 
wheel with a very heavy rope and to build the corral the 
next day. I was not personally accustomed to bulls so took 
the advice of our livestock settler who claimed to be experienc 


Packard: The next morning, a little after daybreak, I was called 
on by some irate settlers. The bull, I found had walked 
with the wheel until the rope broke and then he was loose. 
During the night he had knocked down the tent in which a 
settler--a graduate from Stanfordwas sleeping. He managed 
to get out from under and ran bare-footed to widow Lee s house, 
about a quarter of a mile away. By the time the children 
were to go to school the whole settlement was aroused. And 
again, as was the custom the superintendent had to do something 
about it. I secured the cooperation of a would-be cowboy 
who was working in the pipe shed. He had a trick pony and 
said he was an expert with a rope. I borrowed a cow pony 
and a lasso from one of the settlers and the two of us started 
out in search of the bull. My cowboy friend managed to 
get his rope around the bull s neck but he had made the mistake 
of having the other end tied to the horn of his saddle. 
The inevitable happened. The bull pulled the saddle off and 
started for Mrs. Lee s garden. The saddle finally caught 
in a fence and the rope broke. So there I was in an open 
field with a thoroughly roused bull. I had been a very good 
rider as a boy and had used a lasso, so I managed to get the 
rope around the bull s neck and then rode with the bull 
when he was not coming my way and kept ahead of him when 
he changed directions. ( Laughter ) Being unused to such 
vigorous exercise, the bull finally settled down and I was 
able to wind the rope around a tree which held the bull while 


Packard: an experienced dairyman put a ring in his nose with a stout 

stick attached. All that was left to do was to lead the bull 
down El Capitan, the main road through the colony, to a dairy 
man s place where a proper corral had been built. 

Baum: Was this bull enterprise successful then? 

Packard: Yes it worked quite well, at least I don t recall any trouble. 

But the T.B. testing hit a serious snag. Paul Dougherty, 
of whom I have spoken before, was a leader in the dairy 
project. He had a forty-five acre allotment and planned to 
go into the dairy business. But for some reason which I 
have never fully understood, Paul purchased a T.B. infested 
herd, unknowingly, of course. According to the rules which 
he had supported he was obligated to sell the infected cows. 
But such a move would be disastrous. So what to do? That 
was the question. Paul did get rid of the cows and I took 
him on as assistant superintendent. 

Baum: So whenever they got down and out, you hired them. ( Laughter ) 

Packard: Yes, I did just that on several occasions but in most cases 
I couldn t have gotten better people. Paul Dougherty, for 
example, was thoroughly well-informed, was a very hard worker, 
and was completely loyal to the administration and the colony. 
I couldn t have had a better assistant. 

Baum: You couldn t have let him keep his T.B. herd. It would have 
ruined your whole dairy program. 

Packard: Yes, that s right. Paul acted in good faith. But he even 
tually sold the allotment and went into teaching, first 


Packard: in a Centerville high school and then as a professor of 
agriculture at the San Luis Obispo State College. 

Another incident relating to the dairy program which I 
think is worth relating concerns a judgment which I made which 
was arbitrary and perhaps wrong. At least it illustrates 
a type of weakness often associated with bureaucracy. The 
Epstein brothers had taken an allotment together, intending 
to develop a sizable herd which was to be fed in a lot with 
hay and grain to be purchased on the market. The barns 
were to be equipped with the latest milking machines, refriger 
ators and the like. The basic idea was sound as evidenced 
by the fact that much of the milk in the state now comes 
from just such enterprises. But it did not fit into my idea 
of the sort of family farm the Land Settlement Board was trying 
to develop. 1 rather arbitrarily rejected the Epstein s 
application for a loan to start the venture. I have often 
wondered what would have happened if these two very intelligent 
families had gone ahead with their idea. They were very 
cooperative members of the community but sold out and went 
elsewhere when their plans were not supported. 

Baum: You had to okay, or a committee, had to okay... 

Packard: I had to okay the loan. 

Baum: Oh, the loan, I see. If they d had the money they could have 
done anything they wanted? 

Packard: Oh yes. 

Baum: Well, I guess that s the control any farmer is under, whether 


Baum: he s in a colony or not. He has to get his loan okayed from 
the bank or somewhere. 

Packard: Yes, that s right. But, in retrospect, I think, I perhaps 
would have done better if I had recommended the loans to 
them on the basis they wanted. But I followed the principles 
of the Board in not doing it. In any case they sold out and 
went somewhere else. 

Decreasing Demand for Land; Inexperienced Settlers 

Packard: By the end of the second year it was apparent that there 
was no pressing demand for farms. It was necessary, however, 
to sell the land if the project was to be a solvent enterprise, 
As a result of these circumstances the Board decided to adver 
tise both in the Los Angeles area and in the Middle West. 
An attractive Chamber of Commerce type booklet was printed 
which described all of the advantages of this state project- 
good soil, good water supply, easy credits, agricultural 
advice and all the rest. A picture of a small fishing boat 
on the Merced river added a sense of charm. But the results 
were discouraging. People just did not want to go into 
farming, in part, I suppose because of the agricultural 
depression. The next move was to send Kreutzer to Chicago 
and me to Los Angeles to drum up trade. The Chamber of 
Commerce in Los Angeles was very helpful in offering desk 
space and publicity. But still no demand. 

Baum: Didn t anybody apply? 


Packard: Oh yes, a few signed applications but the results were far 
from encouraging, in part because some of those who came 
were so inexperienced that they had no chance whatever of 
succeeding. For example, I received an application from 
a man and his wife. They had the required $1,500.00 and had 
had an interview with Kreutzer. In their letter to me they 
asked me to have five acres of the twenty-acre poultry 
allotment planted to alfalfa so they would not be delayed 
in getting started. On one fine spring day when the Cal 
ifornia poppies were in full bloom, I met the couple at 
the Ballico Station on the Santa Fe. I found our new settler 
to be a slightly built man who had been a bookkeeper with 
no farming experience. But he enthusiastically informed 
me that he had taken a correspondence course on alfalfa 
and had secured a grade of 100. When we arrived at his 
allotment and started to walk through the young alfalfa 
field where the alfalfa was mixed with a weed which would 
disappear at the first cutting and was harmless, I could 

see that Mr. was puzzled. He picked a stem of alfalfa 

and said, "What is this?" I replied by saying that it was 
what he had gotten a grade of 100 on. The inevitable result 
was that his money was gone within three or four months and 
I had to employ his wife as a secretary in the office. In 
due time I managed to sell his farm for what it had cost 
him and the two left for parts unknown. 

Baum: Now, to what do you attribute his failure? 


Packard: Oh, he was just not a farmer. 

Baum: Was it necessary to know about farming, or couldn t he 
have gotten enough assistance from you and other agric 
ultural advisors to have learned about farming? 

Packard: Well, in the first place, he was very much of a city man. 

( Laughter ) He had no experience in farming. His approach 

was all theoretical. He just wasn t prepared physically 

or psychologically to do the kind of physical work required. 

Another experience of a different kind involved a 
worker who had settled on one of the two-acre farm laborer 
allotments. He had a big family and my first involvement 
with him came from a protest on the part of the school 
teachers who complained that the children all had lice in 
their hair. Since the Land Settlement law said nothing 
about lice, I had to act on my own. In cooperation with 
the teachers, the situation was remedied. My second 
encounter came when his neighbors complained about the un 
kempt character of his two-acre block. I found that he 
planned to establish a small slaughter house on the place. 
He assured me that it would be entirely sanitary because 
he planned to feed all the waste to the hogs. I again 
had to exercise rather arbitrary authority. 

To offset this example, I should cite the case of Mr. 
Prothero who was one of the original settlers. He was an 
experienced poultry man who specialized in turkey raising. 
His operations were very successful. I understand that 


Packard: he became quite independently wealthy. 

There was another outstanding example of success. But 
it did not follow the small farm pattern which the Land 
Settlement Act had envisioned. A settler came to Delhi 
in the beginning and settled on one of the largest allot 
ments. It was a ninety-acre tract in the sand dune section 
of the colony. He had $40,000.00 to start with and he 
knew exactly what he wanted to do. To make a long story 
short, he planted his home allotment to peaches and when 
the settlement got into trouble and all of the old policies 
had been abandoned, he bought several settlers out and was 
sold some of the undeveloped land in the Ballico area. As 
a result he became the largest peach grower in the world, 
and was worth more than $1,000,000.00 at the time of his 

Veterans Administration Trainees 

Packard: My most difficult personnel problems came from the 

veterans who were clients of the Veterans Administration. 
Some received monthly checks which were large enough to 
enable them to get by with a minimum of work. 

Baum: Were these men injured? Was that why they had a pension? 

Packard: Yes. They all had some disability. 

Baum: But not one that the Veterans Administration thought 
would prevent them from farming? 

Packard: That s right. They called them trainees. They were given 


Packard: certain supervision by the Veterans Bureau, which was 
supposed to help them. 

One such had settled on a twenty-acre poultry allotment 
before I arrived. He was getting $125.00 a month which 
had considerable purchasing power at that time. He did 
practically no work on his place, but spent much of his 
time hanging around town where he could meet incoming settlers. 
He never attended community meetings nor participated in 
community activities. The time finally came when the Board 
started foreclosure proceedings the first of two fore 
closure proceedings while I was there. He agreed to accept 
a price for the sale of his allotment to be set by a com 
mittee of three, one to be appointed by me, another by 
him and the third by these two. The committee was finally 
appointed and met on his allotment to inspect the place 
and to hear both sides of the dispute. The committee had 
no difficulty in arriving at a figure which was entirely 
satisfactory to me and to him. But his wife took an 
unexpected hand in the proceedings by inviting me into the 
house where she stood by a cupboard with her hand on a 
loaded .25 revolver. She started a tirade against me by 
calling me a liar, which under the circumstances I was not 
inclined to argue about. The veteran entered the room, 
saw what was happening and went quickly over to his wife 
and took the gun away. I reacted with haste and got in 
my car and drove away. When the time came to serve the 


Packard: foreclosure notice I had a difficult decision to make. 
His wife had told her neighbors that she would shoot me 
if I ever put foot on the allotment again. In retrospect 
I realize that I should have had the sheriff serve the 
papers, but I somehow felt that my position in the community 
was at stake. So, with Shattuck as a witness I drove in, 
knocked at the back door, and handed the papers to the 
man who accepted them without a word. But his wife pushed 
through the door and launched an attack at me which was 
ended immediately by the husband who held her while Shattuck 
and I drove away. My next meeting with him was at a prune 
hearing in Santa Rosa, eight years later. He greeted me 
cordially like a long-lost friend. ( Laughter ) 

Baum: The wife s anger over the proceedings seems to have been 
the cause of the trouble. 

Packard: Yes that s true. But it was not her fault. She was sick 
and consequently not normal. I felt badly about the whole 

In another case, the villain in the plot was definitely 
the settler rather than his wife. He was a veteranreceiving 
aid from the Veterans Administration. The couple had 
settled on a ten-acre poultry allotment and seemed to be 
making progress. But in order to make things easier I 
employed his wife as a stenographer in the office. She 
appeared one morning in tears, saying that Charlie had not 
returned home that night. I suggested that we drive to 


Packard: town and examine the bank account, where she had a deposit 
of about $700.00. We found, as I had suspected, that all 
the money was gone. The situation was complicated by the 
fact that she was expecting a baby in a couple of months. 
There was nothing for Emma and me to do but take her into 
our home until the baby came and she was able to move to 
the Bay Area where she had friends. The last I heard of 
the case the man had returned long enough to father another 
child before again leaving for parts unknown. 

Baum: What did the Veteran Bureau do? 

Packard: I don t know. Red Cross paid hospital expenses for the 

baby. She remained with us until the baby was two months 

There was another case where an Army nurse from Texas 
had written saying that she wanted a ten-acre block for 
poultry. She wanted to go into the poultry business. I 
wrote to her, after she told me something about her experience 
and what her assets were. I recommended that she not come. 
I said, "I don t think this is the place for you." But 
one morning she showed up. "I m Miss Smith, from Texas." 
( Laughter ) I said, "I thought I told you that you wouldn t 
fit in here too well." She said, "Oh, but I want to. This 
is just exactly what I want. And I ve got my mother with 
me." Her mother was in her eighties and in a very short 
time went completely blind. The two women, however, got 
this ten-acre farm and wanted to start in with chickens 


Packard: right away. She wanted a poultry house, which was prepared 
and put on the property. Max Cook induced her to be sat 
isfied with one small unit of her proposed poultry house. 
But she wanted a thousand baby chicks to start. I said, 
"Miss Smith, I don t think you should start with a thousand 
chicks. Start with a hundred and see how you get along." 
And so we gave her all the help we could on the theory 
of chicken raising. But about a week later I drove by her 
place and I called out, "How are the chicks coming along?" 
And she said, "They re all dead." ( Laughter ) I said, 
"They re all dead, why what s the matter?" She said, "I 
fed them hen food instead of chick food and they re all 
dead." She then thought she d go into strawberries. 
( Laughter ) And one day I got a special delivery letter 
from her mailed at the post office which was located within 
a hundred feet of my officebut it was a special delivery 
letter to me--to go out and help her with the strawberries. 
She said she was having difficulty. This sort of thing 
went on for a while longer until it became evident to her 
that her plan wouldn t work. I remember one sight that 
was quite pathetic. During the latter part of the time 
that she was there, I went to her place and saw her old 
mother, who was blind by that time, sitting in a chair out 
on the front porch of her little house picking out the 
seeds from sunflowers that they d grown on the place. The 
seeds were to go into the feed mixture for the chickens. 


Packard: The mother finally died, and there was a funeral service in 
Merced for her. Miss Smith gave a beautiful eulogy to her 
mother. And then shortly after that she decided that she 
couldn t go on any longer and wanted to sell out. I was 
able to sell her property to another settler for enough 
money to pay her for everything that she had put into it. 
So she left the colony with as much money as she had when 
she came there. One of the county welfare officers wanted 
to put her in an institution as a person unable to care 
for herself. But I refused to go along and Miss Smith left 
Delhi. About ten years later I met her in Portland where 
she was an active and paid member of a Seventh Day Adventist 
group, exuding the same enthusiasm that she had exhibited 
at Delhi. 

In another case I managed to escape what might have 
been a disaster. A socialist labor leader who was running 
a small paper in San Francisco appeared one morning saying 
that he had about decided to take out an allotment. He said 
that he had never wielded a shovel but that he had wielded 
a pen and thought he might like to be a part of this cooper 
ative community. After a very short conference I was sure 
that we did not need a pen wielder working with some of 
our discontents. ( Laughter ) My persistence in urging 
his reconsideration of his plan made him a little suspicious. 
Besides that I think he had been talking to a disgruntled 
settler and was about to resort to the use of his pen. 


Packard: He left and I never heard from him again. 

Baum: Now these veteran trainees, did they get special assistance- 
more than the other settlers? 

Packard: Yes. They received monthly checks for disabilities they 
may have had. So they came in with an income already es 
tablished, which enabled them to get in under the $1,500.00 
limitation rather easily. Because where you have an income, 
that s even better than having a cash sum at the beginning. 
So some of the veterans were let in without the $1,500.00 
cash requirement because they had income. 

Baum: Did they have any other assistance, other than this little 
amount of money? Was there anyone there to teach them 

Packard: No. They got no other help from the Veterans Bureau. 

They got the same help as everybody else did from the colony, 
but nothing special. 

Baum: Was there a Major Grant who was the leader of the critical 

Packard: Yes. 

Baum: Was he a settler? 

Packard: Oh, no. Major Grant was employed in the Veterans office 
in San Francisco. And he was supervisor of the trainee 

Baum: Did he feel this was the wrong kind of work for the veterans? 

Packard: Oh, no. He favored the kind of work for the veterans but 
he felt that the veterans in the colony were not making 


Packard: good and that they would not be able to succeed. That 

was his judgment. 
Baum: But they were the wrong veterans for that job, for those 

positions . 
Packard: They were either the wrong ones or they weren t capable 

of succeeding in the colony. That was his judgment. 
Baum: Well then, that was no fault of the colony, was it? Or 

did he feel that was the fault of the colony? 
Packard: Well, he felt that we had probably taken on some veterans 

who shouldn t have been accepted. But he recommended that 

some settlers sell out and then go to other properties 

and pay more for land than they were paying here. 
Baum: I see. So in that instance he did think that the colony 

was not a good place for them. He thought they were 

suitable men to do farming. 
Packard: Well, I don t know what his judgment on that was. He 

never talked to me. 

Settlers Organize to Demand More Aid from the State 

Packard: The inevitable finally happened. A Welfare League was 
organized by some of the settlers who were delinquent and 
could see no way out unless the State made concessions- 
reduced the price of land, extended the time for initial 
payments and the like. This protest was entirely understand 
able but as superintendent I felt that time would resolve 
most of the problems if the Board would support the policies 


Packard: which I was following; that is, doing all that I could 
to help those who had a chance of succeeding and helping 
the failures to get out with minimum losses. 

A former preacher who was a settler was president of 
the Delhi Settlers Welfare League, an organization of 
hundred seventy-one of the two hundred eighty holders of 
allotments in the colony. Without mincing words, he emphatic 
ally declared conditions in the colony were becoming un 
bearable, and stated: 

" "We can t get by under present conditions. If we 
don t get by, we re going broke. 1 The thing is an 
economic problem and he called for solution on an 
economic basis. Said he, Conditions in the colony 
have gone from bad to worse. For months the settlers 
have been coming to my home evenings in twos and threes 
and sometimes as many as a dozen at a time. We decided 
to organize a league at first, we called the Delhi 
Settlers Defense League. Rather than have the name 
create an antipathy on the part of the administration, 
we changed to Delhi Settlers Welfare League. Almost 
all the settlers are behind in their payments. The 
contract with the state calls for the forfeiture of 
all improvements in case the State Land Settlement 
Board decides to cancel our delinquency and the improve 
ments are taken as rental. 

Of course, any bank would have done this. But we 
didn t. None of that was done. 

" The price we were forced to pay for land was too 
high. The average has been more than two hundred dollars 
for raw land. One piece of land, leveled for alfalfa, 
just north is for sale for one hundred dollars an acre. 
The two-hundred-acre Drew Ranch with all improvements 
is offered for two hundred dollars an acre. This is 
some of the best land of the Delhi district. It wasn t 
the land that brought us here. It was the allurement 
of low rates of interest and long term payments. We 
were told we could come here with the $1,500.00 with 
which to make an initial payment on our farms, bring 
the farms to production, and support families with 


Packard : 

Mrs. : 
(Reading from 

loans made by the state. Now we are told the state 
is without funds for further loans and we can t get 
money. At the last election a two million dollar bond 
issue for further development of Delhi and for new 
settlement projects was voted down and hence there is 
no money. The failure of settlers to be able to meet 
their payments has cut off the administration from 
funds it expected to receive. What we need here is 
more money from which we may obtain loans at no interest 
on deferred payments for a period of five years, thus 
enabling us to tide ourselves over until our farms 
begin to yield. 

Another settler who declined to permit the use of 
his name said, I put $9,000.00 into my allotment and 
I m broke. I ve been here three years and have got 
two years more to go before the sale of production 
from my farm will meet the expenses and keep my family. 
The land here is impoverished from seventy years of 
grain farming. All of the humus has been taken out 
and nothing put back in, making it impossible to produce 
sweet potatoes and vegetables on a commercial basis. 
To put me over the top would require the state giving 
me a new price on my land of $150.00 an acre, instead 
of $250.00, and to give me a new contract requiring no 
interest on deferred payments for five years. 1 

Discussing the situation from another angle the 
settler asked, Can the state of California afford 
to have this colony go to the wall with commissions 
from all over the world coming here to inspect this 
colony and with all of the alluring stories that have 
been published in periodicals? Can you imagine the 
damage that it will do to California if the Delhi 
Colony fell flat? There isn t any way out of it 
but for the state to take a loss here. It has got 
to do something to assist the settlers." " 

" "The Delhi Colony is not the failure some of the 
Welfare Leagures represent it to be, 1 is the statement 
of Dr. C. C. Crampton who is purchasing a sixty-acre 
tract and building a modern home. Dr. Crampton is 
president of the Delhi Cooperative League." 

At this late date (May 18, 1967) I am unsure of the Crampton 
facts. They did build a big home. At first, they were 
cooperative later joined the dissenters. 

Actually, when too many settlers were threatened with 


Mrs . : 

Packard ; 


loss and failure (as they were for many causes) it was 
natural to band together to try for "redress of grievances." 

In my later judgment, there was the wrong psychology 
about a State enterprise--"! m secure the state can t or 
won t let me fail ."--"It s the state s bad judgment if this 
doesn t work." The biggest percentage of settlers worked 
hard and tried to do their part and felt the state wouldn t 
let them down. 

The atmosphere surrounding the work of the Welfare 
League is well-illustrated by some notes which Emma made 
at the time. They involved the community church and the 
work of a missionary who had been sent to Delhi. He was 
vigorously opposed to sin but what Emma did not like was 
that I was considered to be the major sinner. 

I won t read the notes, but the point of all this was 
that Brother Gunn was a missionary from the Presbyterian 
Church who was sent to organize this church, which was 
organized as a community church, but under the sponsorship 
of the Presbyterian denomination. 
This was the only church there? 

Yes. Naturally the church was open to all who conformed 
to baptism and a belief in Christ as the Son of God. Mr. 
Gunn was sent as the field organizer and had been working 
with a canvass of the community. 

The point was that as part of the sermon, which was 
very orthodox, fundamentalist, Brother Gunn proceeded to 


Packard: tell that it was a slave girl who guided her master to the 
Lord and then explained that slavery didn t hold so much in 
those days but while people were held in debt and mortgaged 
to the limit of their resources it was virtual slavery. 
This is from Emma s notes: 

"So this was the kind of sermons they listened to 
on Sundays! Some of them were already disgruntled. 
It didn t take a very subtle person to see that his 
sympathies were already with the Welfare League. That 
was the one that was organized to take up the settlers 
cudgels as against the administration. So they were 
organized . " 

This tells about the Welfare League: 

"And presently he may be a Moses leading the children 
of Delhi out of bondage, but what a start for a community 
church! The inference through the sermon was quite 
plain. That most of the residents were sinners, except 
present company. Again, maybe it was only my egotism 
that was hurt, but this time the inferences were decidedly 
not complimentary to my husband, who, of course, was 
the state. He carries out these dastardly acts of 
taking a poor man s money from him. The fact that it s 
never been done yet doesn t seem to matter. But now 
I am in the position of having said I will support 
financially any church the people would organize. 
And in supporting it I will apparently be supporting 
one more force to tear down and destroy the faith of 
the community in the land settlement work that was 
designed to help them." 

Baum: This was when things were really hot, huh? 

Packard: Yes. 

Baum: Near the end of the trail. 

Packard: Yes, so far as I was concerned. Several things happened 

as a result of the developing circumstances. 

The Land Settlement Board held a meeting in Delhi to 

hear complaints from the Welfare League members and to 


Packard: make up their own minds as to what the real conditions 

were. I was completely satisfied with the results of this 

A hearing was held in Delhi by representatives of the 
Veterans Administration. One of the trainees who had 
been completely noncooperative was assigned the task of 
bringing disgruntled settlers in to testify. Every care 
was taken to keep me from knowing who testified. I presume 
they feared I would act against them. In any case, the record 
of this hearing, which was sent to Governor Richardson, was 
sent to me for comment. The following is a condensation of 
the points raised and my replies: 

(a) The price of the land was excessive as compared 
to similar land in the vicinity. 

(ans.) The price of the land was set after a careful 
investigation of 300 farms in the area by the University 
of California. 

(b) The cost of leveling and installing laterals was 
more than the printed estimates called for. 

(ans.) This is a positive statement with no evidence 
to substantiate it. No printed estimate of the cost 
of individual leveling and piping were ever made. 

(c) Efficient and competent advice and instruction 
was not furnished by the state to the degree which might 
be expected from the language of the Act and the literature 
published by the state. 

(ans.) The wording of the Act is as follows: "to demon 
strate the value of adequate capital and direction 
in subdividing and preparing land for settlement." 
The Act also says, "The Board shall appoint such 
experts, technical and clerical assistance, as may 
prove necessary." I then enumerated the long list 


Packard: of services provided by the state. I ended by saying, 
"In addition to the services above outlined, two men 
were employed full-time to do nothing but give instruction 
and help to the trainees. These men were in almost 
daily contact with the Veterans Bureau representatives, 
who never intimated to the state that the training was 
not satisfactory." 

(d) "That in many cases beneficiaries of the Bureau 
lost at least a year s time because of the unsatisfactory 
work and incompetent development instruction." 

(ans.) "Six out of eighteen trainees have not been 
in Delhi a year and have experienced no losses. Nine 
others made no claim of loss. Three reported a loss 
of treeswhich were replaced in each case free of 
charge . " 

(e) "That the record of quick returns from intercrops 
or yearly corps does not substantiate the predictions 
made in the literature advertising the Delhi project." 

(ans.) "No prediction has been made in any literature 
regarding intercrops which is misleading. --No testimony 
was given to prove this other than opinion." 

(f) "The Delhi Cooperative Association has been of 
little practical assistance to the beneficiaries of 
the Bureau." 

(ans.) "The Cooperative Association has been fostered 
by the state in every way possible. The activities 
have been subsidized by the state, and the officers 
of the administration have given time and money to 
promote the organization." I then supported this state 
ment with figures and facts. 

(g) Concerns charges of discrimination against ex- 
service men, which I denied. 

(h) Concerns the charge that there has not been the 
degree of harmony between ex-service men, other settlers, 
and the state that there should have been. 

(i) Charges that the system of loans to trainees was 
somewhat uncertain and variable. 


Packard: (j) "That it is doubtful that some of the trainees 
should remain in view of the records so far made." 
To which I agreed. 

(k) "That there is a very earnest desire on the part 
of the majority of trainees that their enterprise shall 
succeed." I agreed. 

The nature of the recommendations is we 11 -summarized 
by the following: 

"That immediate surveys be made of each beneficiary 
in order to determine his present situation, and a 
conference held with the state official in order to 
ascertain what his future power may be in order to 
determine whether the individual trainee shall be 
continued or transferred to some other character of 
training. " 

My general reply to this was as follows: 

"I feel that the survey proposed by the Veterans 
Bureau might be desirable, although the condition 
of trainees has already been surveyed several times, 
as many as five distinct budgets having been made for 
trainees by representatives of the Veterans Bureau. 
I feel that enough isi known about them now to make 
definite recommendations. Assurance of loans can be 
granted provided conditions warrant them, but that is 
as far as the state can go." 


charges of incompetence I made the following statement: 

"The fact that the Delhi project is solvent and 
shows a clear surplus of over $250,000.00 is at least 
evidence that the state s business has been protected. 
The following record of the prices charged by the 
state, and the prices recommended by the Concrete 
Pipe Manufacturers Association of California shows 
that the pipe made by the state which totals more than 
140 miles, has been made at a great saving to the state. 

Diameter State price Assoc. price 

30 $1.40 $2.26 

24 1.00 1.50 

20 .80 1.02 

18 .65 .86 

16 .40 .69 

14 .35 .55 

12 .30 .42 

10 .20 .34 

6 .15 .27 


Packard: The amount charged by the state includes an ample margin 
of safety above the cost. 

"We invite the closest analysis of our cost accounts 
of pipe manufacture, pipe laying and other engineering 
work. The leveling has cost considerably less than 
the leveling of adjoining farms due to the fact that 
the pipe line is made at the lowest cost possible. 
The irrigation system is as complete as any in the 
State of California and has given excellent satisfaction. 
The total cost of irrigation, including the charge of 
the Turlock Irrigation District, runs around $4.00 
an acre which is a low charge as compared with charges 
in other districts of the state. A complete drainage 
system is working in connection with the irrigation 
system. The results of drainage have been somewhat 
spectacular and have been the cause of considerable 
interest on the part of engineers interested in this 

"A saving of 20% in buildings has been secured as 
the service has been paid for by the settlers, and this 
can be proved from the figures in our files. Our 
building service has been outstanding in its efficiency. 
The desire of the state has been to put a minimum 
amount of money in buildings and many thousands of 
dollars have been saved settlers through this advice. 

"The agricultural advice has been sound and the 
development of the project so far has been based on 
this advice. Over 1,800 acres have been planted to 
alfalfa and the yields have been remarkably good. The 
varieties of trees and vines have been actually purchased 
through state effort. One of the dairy herds on the 
settlement had the highest average of any dairy herd 
in California in April of this year. In August this 
same herd included the highest producing individual 
according to the records of the U. S. Department of 
Agriculture. The sweet potatoes produced in the settle 
ment have been of unusual quality and this has been 
recognized by the shippers. Last year s return from 
potatoes was not satisfactory on account of market 
conditions and lack of shipment. Over three cars of 
fertilizer have been handled through the state and as 
a result the production of alfalfa has more than doubled. 

"In the testimony of Major Bates, in answering this 
question-- You haven t received the instruction or 
assistance you thought you would receive? , he uses the 
following language, "Absolutely not. 1 Taking his 
case as an illustration, the state gave him the 


Packard: engineering service in the leveling of his land, 
designing and supervising the construction of his 
buildings, purchased the trees that were put out on 
his place and made a hundred replacements of those 
that died the first year, due to no fault of the 
state s. This replacement was secured through the 
nursery. The vines have been cared for, pruned and 
trellised according to state advice. At least three 
demonstrations have been conducted on his vineyard. 
The state has had experts from the University help him 
in pruning his trees and vines and in addition to this 
personal service and these demonstrations, he has been 
given written instruction in practically all the oper 
ations that he has followed. The state conducted a 
campaign against army worms which infested his vineyard 
during his absence from the settlement. I am unable 
to think of any development on his place in which 
assistance has not been granted. 

"In several cases mistakes have been acknowledged 
and in most of these cases these mistakes have been 
made by settlers who have been employed by the state 
in accordance with the provisions of the act. In fact 
some of the settlers who testified to many mistakes 
made by the state were themselves the cause of these 
very mistakes. In spite of the fact the state has 
endeavored to employ settlers wherever possible, the 
mistakes that have been made have certainly not been 
in excess of the normal errors that occur in any 
development plan. 

"The handling of the unusual conditions incident to 
the light character of the soil and the heavy winds 
has been the cause of much favorable comment. The 
progress that has been made has been far in excess 
of the progress made by any of the old residents of 
this district and the losses that have occurred in the 
handling of the elements have been no greater than the 
losses due to natural conditions in other places. 
For example, as much alfalfa has been lost in the 
Durham settlement due to the character of their 
heavy soil as has been lost in Delhi due to the action 
of the wind." 


Packard Resigns as Superintendent of Delhi 

Baum: What happened next? You seemed to be running into trouble. 

Packard: Several things happened. The whole structure seemed to 

be falling on my head. I don t recall the exact sequence 
of events, but I will continue the enumeration of events 
which I started with. The Veterans Bureau recommended 
that all eighteen trainees withdraw from the colony. 

Baum: Why? Where could they get a better chance? 

Packard: Well, not all of the trainees left. Several remained and 
made good. I agreed that the majority might not succeed 
and should leave. But I certainly did not agree that all 
should leave. 

Dr. Mead left on a trip to Australia, leaving Kreutzer 
in charge of the administrative duties which he had been 

The financial situation was becoming critical. The 
money in the original appropriation had been used up, 
so Kreutzer and I had to go to Sacramento to negotiate 
a loan of $10,000.00 from the State Controller. The 
loan was to meet certain payments which would be due 
before income would enable us to pay. This emergency was 
met and the loan repaid. 

Baum: What did you do next when your money ran out? 

Packard: We had to go to the Federal Land Bank and make arrangements 
with the Land Bank to make loans directly to settlers, 


Packard: where we had already loaned money. Upon receiving the 
new loans the settlers would pay the loans from the 
state. The settlers would then owe the Land Bank instead 
of the state. And the state would have money to loan to 
other settlers to keep the thing going. 

When Mead returned from Australia he immediately 
sent his resignation to the Governor, saying that he was 
not available for reappointtnent to the Board because he 
had accepted a position as Commissioner of Reclamation 
in Washington. 

Baum: So he didn t get you out of a mess like you were hoping. 

Packard: No, he didn t. Governor Richardson, who had never been 
a Mead supporter, appointed Mr. Wooster, an old-time 
real estate promoter, to the chairmanship of the Land 
Settlement Board. His policy, as expressed to me was 
"root, hog, or die." Strangely enough, Mr. Wooster 
wanted me to stay and sent me a handwritten letter on 
Pacific Union Club stationery expressing his confidence 
in me. I was>however, completely opposed to Wooster "s 

policies . 

Articles for and against Delhi began to appear, the 
most notable being one written by the venerable Edward F. 
Adams, father of Frank Adams and founder of the Commonwealth 
Club, entitled "The Truth about Delhi." 

In view of all this I decided that I could do nothing 
in trying to carry out the policies of the original 


Packard: Board and sent in my resignation, which was accepted. 

Baum: Before you tell about your next job, I have a few more 

questions to ask you about Delhi. I wonder if you d like 
to read this clipping into the record and then I ll ask 
you a few questions. 

Packard: After the hearing the committee reported to the legislature 
that funds should be appropriated to make necessary adjust 
ments . 

Baum: Adjustments mean reducing the amount they d have to pay? 

Packard: Yes, as indicated by the following account. This is 
April 15, 1925. 

"Three bills designed to bring relief to settlers 
of the Delhi Land Settlement Colony passed the assembly 
today. One measure appropriates $250,000.00 to pay 
existing obligations and operating expenses, to be 
repaid to the state with interest. Another bill 
amends the Land Settlement Act authorizing a reduction 
in the price of unsold lands and a revision of existing 
contracts for settlers to meet present price conditions. 
The reduction amounts to approximately thirty per 
cent. The third measure eliminates interest charges 
for the next five years on the two million dollars 
loaned from the general fund of the Land Settlement 
Board for the development of the Delhi project, this 
being necessary to equalize the amount of reductions 
in payments proposed to the settlers during the next 
five years. Another bill which would appropriate 
$350,000.00 for the Land Settlement Board with which 
to pay to the state its arrears, which is merely a 
method of balancing the books, was amended and prob 
ably will be voted on tomorrow." 

Baum: Did Dougherty remain on as superintendent there? 

Packard: Well, he remained for a while after I left, but finally 

sold his farm and left. Paul was very loyal to the Delhi 
colony, to Mead, and to me, as evidenced by the following 
statement which he made while criticism of the project 


Packard: was at its height. 

"Conditions are not as dark in the colony as some 
of the Welfare Leaguers seem to think. We think the 
colony is proving a success. The growth of trees 
and vines is better than we had anticipated. If a 
man comes here with $2,500.00 cash and with a family, 
he s got to go out and get to work to tide him along. 
In the second year with alfalfa a man can do much better. 
It s much more in the man than in the amount of 
capital he has when he comes here. There have been 
few failures. We now have 85% of the original settlers. 
Those who left were not all failures as some of them 
left because of sales or because of other reasons, 
among them death in the family bringing them inherit 
ances. I think the majority of these people are going 
to pull through. Some men fail with $10,000.00, 
others made a success with a capital of but $1,000.00 
in land settlement. Some settlers who were making 
the best success came in with as little as $1,500.00. 
The contention of representatives of the Delhi Settlers 
Welfare League that lands in the colony have been 
priced exorbitantly high is answered by Dougherty 
that the price paid averages $225.00 an acre and that 
this represents the cost of the land to the state 
plus development and a safe margin. This development 
work, he points out, includes the installation of 
main pipe lines to the allotment boundary and whatever 
pumps are required as well as the water rights. Once 
the colony is developed, says Dougherty, the land will 
be of high productivity and value and adapted to 
permanent crops, such as peaches, grapes and the 
dairy industry." 

This appraisal by Paul Dougherty more or less reflects 

my own opinion at the time. And it also reflects the 

intention of the state when the land settlement bill 

was first passed. 
Baum: I think, considering the time, Mr. Dougherty s statement 

was optimistic. 
Packard: Later on Dougherty told me that his Thompson seedless 

vineyard produced as much as sixteen tons to the acre, 

which was a record yield for the state. 


Packard: I think the failure at Delhi, at that time, was 

simply the forerunner of the failure of tens of thousands 
of farms over the state of California that were foreclosed 
by the banks and taken over by the banks during the 
depression. As Oscar Shattuck said, much later, "If we d 
begun the project in 1939, war prices would have put the 
thing over without anybody struggling at all. It was 
just the wrong decade." 

Baum: They said that there were seventy-five farms still open. 
At the end of the second year there were seventy-five 
farms still available out of the total. 

Packard: Yes, I think that was it. Altogether when I left, there 
were two hundred eighty five settlers in the colony. 

My final act so far as the colony was concerned was 
testimony before a hearing that was held in Delhi after 
I had left. The hearing was held by a special committee 
appointed by the legislature to conduct an investigation 
of the colony and the status of the colony. At that time 
I was opposed by nearly everyone who attended the meeting. 
All the settlers were there and many of them were very 
antagonisticpeople whom I had befriended and whom I thought 
were my friends had suddenly become very antagonistic 
in a very obvious way. If I went up to speak to them I 
could see that it was embarrassing, even though they might 
have wanted to talk to me, it was embarrassing for t -em to 
do it. So I sat through the hearing listening to the 



Mrs. ; 

Packard: charges that were being made, many of which were completely 
unfounded, and in the evening was asked to express my 
viewpoint. At that time I said that I realized that the 
situation was bad and that probably adjustments would 
have to be made in order to carry the thing through. 
But I still thought that if it was supported, it could 
be made a success. 

What were these notes made for, Mrs. Packard? 
I had, for three years, been doing newspaper reporting 
for the Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Republican and the 
Stockton Record . So I had checked all these clippings 
and had quite a record and was used to tracking the facts 
of things that were going on. So I thought this was 
getting so hot and unpleasant that it would be just as 
well to have something down about it because we would forget. 
And, partly for the sake of the record, I d have something 
to refer to. And, partly just for my own satisfaction 
to have it down. 

Baum: So you just took these as kind of a public diary. 

Packard: Well, yes. 

Let me just say, we have a record of all the clippings 


that Mrs. Packard sent to the papers. And just a few of 
the headings will show something of the type of thing 
that was going on: "Berkeley Bankers Will Visit Delhi", 
"Plan New Station at Delhi Settlement," "Delhi Veterans In 
itiate Recruits ," "Farm Bureau Council Meets State Leaders," 

*Mrs. Packard s news clipping books have been deposited in 
the Bancroft Library in the Walter Packard Collection. 


Packard ; 






"Rabbits Menace Delhi, Settlers Plan New Drive," "Vice- 
President of the Peach Growers Association Will Meet 
Fruit Growers at Delhi," and so forth. "Rules Issued 
at Delhi for Use of Water," "Four Southern Pacific Officials 
Visit Delhi," "Delhi Boys Form New Scout Group," "Delhi 
Peach Men Hear Tree Address., " Old Settlers at Delhi Enjoy 
Annual Banquet," "Organize Orchestra in Delhi Section," 
"Demonstration Agent Assists Delhi Group," "Eleven Hundred 
Acres Alfalfa Planted at Delhi." 
Community type things that went on. 

I ve got some further questions for you now. I noticed 
that you had a lot of planning in your Delhi program, the 
settlers apparently would work with you before they would 
go ahead. And there was planning in the way the town 
was going to develop. How did the people react to that? 
Did they object to that planning? 

Not at all. They thought it was fine. They were all very 
much for that. And that was one reason why they came to 
the colony in the first place because it was advertised 
as an area that was planned and where the University was 
working with the Land Settlement Board and where conditions 
would be, according to the theory, quite ideal. So they 
were all very much in favor of it. 

So there had already been a selective factor in that those 
who decided to come approved of the plan and the idea. 


Packard: Oh, yes. They wouldn t have come if they hadn t. They 

came there largely because of that. 
Baum: Then I suppose we can t use that as an example of how any 

population would react to planning, since they were 

already selected by that factor. 
Packard: From that particular angle I suppose that s true. I don t 

know though that people in general are against planning. 

They generally like things that are planned out. 
Baum: I don t know. Every time you try to plan a city or 

anything, or one block, or zoning or anything, you have 

a lot of agitation. And some people object to the idea 

of planning. 
Packard: They didn t have to come to Delhi. I think the objection 

to planning comes in an area that s already established 

and the planning may change things. I think here, in a 

new area, where you have a new settlement, they would 

expect to have it planned. 
Baum: We always have this idea of farmers as being people who 

are each their own individual planners. 
Packard: Yes, that s true. But the farmer is also a part of the 

community especially on irrigation projects where he must 

work in harmony with others. 

* "An Economic Analysis of California Land Settlements at Durham 
and Delhi," Roy James Smith, 1937, 424 pp. (Unpublished Ph.D. 
thesis of Giannini Foundation) 



A Try at Banking and Loan Work July 1924 - June 1926 

Baum: After you left Delhi, what did you do next? 

Packard: Anticipating my resignation as superintendent at Delhi, 
I had taken a civil service examination for a job with the 
Bureau of Reclamation. It was a job which dealt with the 
settlement of land on a reclamation project and I thought 
that my experience at Delhi would enable me to avoid mistakes 
and perhaps do a better job than someone else who had not 
had the experience that I d had. 

I passed the examination. I saw Dr. Mead, who had 
become Commissioner of Reclamation, about three months later 
when he was in Berkeley on Bureau of Reclamation matters. He 
told me at that time that I had passed the highest in the 
written examination, but that he thought that my experience 
was not the kind that would be of value to the Bureau. 
He said that Mr. Wooster had told him that I had approved loans 
to settlers that should never have been approved. And he 
said that there were other things where he felt that I 
was not competent. This in spite of the fact that every 
loan that was approved at Delhi was approved by him, not 
by me. I simply recommended loans and they were approved 
by him as chairman of the Board. But in any case that cut 
off this opportunity for continued public employment. 


Packard: I couldn t go back to the University because by that time 
the Delhi Colony was getting pretty badly advertised all over 
the state and the University, quite logically, could not 
take me back. But this does not mean that I was abandoned 
by my friends in the University. Quite the contrary. They 
were always ready to help when I called on them. Frank Adams, 
Charles Shaw, Frederick Bioletti, Knowles Ryerson, Professor 
Etcheverry, and later Dr. Harry Wellman, each in his way, 
played his part in the shaping of my career after leaving 

But it was Howard Whipple, then president of the First 
National Bank of Turlock and later a Vice-President of the 
Bank of America, who provided my first job in the commercial 
world. He recommended me to the president of the Western 
State Life Insurance Company who was looking for someone 
to head the mortgage loan department. 

The job required a great deal of traveling up and down 
the state examining properties on which the company had 
already made loans and examining property on which loans 
were being considered. In my review of what the company had 
done, I found that mistakes had been made in judgment that 
astonished me. Loans were made on land that I thought was 
so inferior that no bank would loan money on them at all. 
And I found one case where the appraisal for one loan was 
made on an entirely different farmnot the one on which 
the loan was granted. I also was very much opposed to the 


Packard: attitude of some of the officials of the company who were 
in positions to reject or approve loans. In some cases 
farmers who had spent a great deal of money in developing 
their properties and had good going concerns but were tem 
porarily in difficulty were closed out. Although they had 
thousands of dollars in equities, they were unable to meet 
their payments. 

Having had the attitude that the success of the farmer 
was the important consideration, I was galled by what 
appeared to me to be a wrong attitude. I began to feel 
that I was in a position that I would not enjoy. 

Baum: Was this a scheme to get the farms? 

Packard: No. This was during the beginning of the agricultural 

depression when loans made on farm mortgages were beginning 
to be foreclosed all over the state. The Bank of America 
took over thousands of farms. All lending institutions did 
the same thing. I simply got in at the beginning of the 
great depression. 

Baum: Well, I wondered if this Western States Life Insurance 
Company had that policy of trying to get the... 

Packard: No, not an avowed policy. It was just business. If borrowers 
were delinquent, they were foreclosed, and that was that. The 
farmers may have been very fine people and making every 
effort in the world to succeed and with some prospect of 
success, but the company interest came first. This was in 
sharp contrast to the attitude that we had at Delhi 


Packard: where we were interested in the success of the settlers. 

The insurance company was too, but its primary interest was 
in getting its interest on its loans. If a man didn t 
pay, that was that. He was foreclosed according to the 

In retrospect, I realize that I was facing a problem 
involving issues and relationships which neither I nor 
anyone else understood clearly. 

In any case, Mr. Whipple recommended me for another 
jobwhich if I made good would be the vice presidency of 
the Bank of Palo Alto. I had an interview with Mr. Philip 
Landsdale, president of the bank, who offered me the job 
which, if I made good, would pay $10,000.00 a year. I was 
naive enough to accept the job. The idea of living in Palo 
Alto on $10,000.00 a year appealed to all of us, even though 
neither Emma nor I had ever thought of me as a banker. 
It did not take long to prove that such premonitions were 
correct. I simply was not a banker. ( Laughter ) 

Owens Valley, Consultant for the Los Angeles Department of 
Water and Power 

Packard: Mr. Landsdale had told me that, as vice president, I 
would be a sort of public relations man and that if I 
were called upon to do some public service it would be proper 
for me to do it. So, when I got a telephone call from the 
head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power asking 
me if I could go to Owens Valley to study the situation 


Packard: and formulate any suggestions as to how the Department 

might meet the opposition of the residents of the Valley to 
the City s program. I was inwardly delighted because it 
seemed to me to be the very kind of problem I would like 
to get into. I think Mr. Landsdale was pleased too, because, 
by that time, he was beginning to realize that I was not 
the man he needed. In any case, I accepted the assignment 
which was not to last long. But on the night train to 
Mohave I felt, again, that sense of insecurity that had 
engulfed me when I left Delhi. 

I arrived in Independence during the peak of the crisis, 
when a large group of Owens Valley people were physically 
opposing the diversion of water by Los Angeles. 

Baum: It seems that you went from one hot spot to another. 

Packard: Yes, I certainly did. But, although I was getting back 
into a field which suited my temperament and training, I 
was not entirely happy. I remembered the fight that had 
occurred when the Project was first proposed. Job Harriman, 
the Socialist candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, had opposed 
the plan because Harry Chandler and other propertied interests 
in the San Fernando Valley which they owned and which was 
to be irrigated by Owens Valley water. Job, whom I knew and 
admired, had taken my brother John in as a partner in his 
law firm. But many years had passed since those earlier 
days and the newly created Los Angeles Department of Water 
and Power was headed by staunch liberals who believed in 


Packard: public ownership of both water and power. 

Thus, although I was representing a powerful corporation, 
the L.A. Department of Water and Power, against farmers and 
others in Owens Valley, I felt that the overall public 
good outweighed the interests of the relatively small number 
of people of the Valley, provided their interests were 
being properly cared for by the City. I found that the City 
was buying land at prices far above any that could be justified 
by income and much above the ordinary market price. I found, 
too, that production of wealth in the Valley was not very 
significant. I was convinced that what the City was doing 
would by no means end the life in the Valley. The recreational 
opportunities were superb and nothing could lessen the attrac 
tiveness of the wonderful mountain scenery. My appraisal 
of the opposition interests in the Valley was affected 
adversely by the corrupt actions of the president of the 
Owens Valley Irrigation District who was the leader of the 
fight against the City. He had embezzled thousands of 
dollars which he had used in promoting his extensive cattle 
business. When he was later sent to the penitentiary the 
opposition collapsed. At any rate I made a favorable report, 
and was later asked to present the City s case at a public 
meeting in Los Angeles. 

Baum: What was your duty in Owens Valley exactly? 

Packard: I was to survey the area and find out just what causing 

these settlers to object. The City was paying high prices 


Packard: for the land. The officials in charge felt that the City 
was acting justly and that the interests of the growing 
population in Los Angeles far outweighed the interests of 
the small number of marginal farmers in the Valley. It 
was an old, old settlement. People had lived there for a 
couple of generations, and it was home to them. It was 
an isolated community before the days of automobiles; 
it was a little civilization all by itself. They were 
closely and emotionally tied to the area. It is a beautiful 
valley with the high Sierras to the west. Mount Whitney, 
the highest point in the country, was in contrast to Death 
Valley, the lowest point in the country, to the east. 
The pioneer people just didn t want to move. They got big 
money for their land, to be sure, but money didn t compensate. 
Many of the farmers had gotten in the hands of real estate 
promoters who sold them worthless land on which they could 
not make a living. We saw several of these people hanging 
around the town of Independence not knowing what to do next. 
When I returned to Palo Alto, I realized that my tenure 
of office was coming to an end. Mr. Landsdale had a large 
cattle ranch bordering the Pacheco Pass in the Coast Range 
and suggested that I might spend part of my time helping 
him manage the property. But I had no interest in that field 
and was not inclined to want to try. 

When my position with the Bank of Palo Alto was terminated 
I opened a consulting office in San Francisco. Although I 


Packard: made my living as a consultant for many years later on, 
this first adventure ended within a period of two weeks 
or so, because I secured a consulting job with the National 
Irrigation Commission of Mexico, which lasted about four 
years. I was indebted to Prof. Charles Shaw of the Soil 
Department of the College of Agriculture for this assign 
ment. The Mexican Commission had asked Prof. Shaw for a 
soils man to report on the suitability of the soils in the 
various projects the Commission was building and Prof. Shaw 
recommended me. This opened another exciting adventure for 
me and the family. 


MEXICO, 1926 - 1929 

Soils Survey Assignments in Guatimape", Western Chihuahua, 
Rio Salado, and Other Projects 


Packard: My employment by the Comisi6n Nacional de Irrigation 

of Mexico began in 1926 on a temporary basis. The Commission 
had become deeply involved in an irrigation project in the 
state of Durango and wanted a soil survey made of the area 
to be irrigated. There was some question regarding its 
suitability. I left home believing that I would be gone 
three or four months. But as things turned out, I remained 
in Mexico until the latter part of 1929. 

I reported to the Commission in July 1926. The office 
was in a picturesque old stone building called Casa Del Lago, 
located in the center of Chapultepec Park. Mr. J. Sanchez 
Mejorada, chairman of the Commission, became a lifelong 
friend. He was an unusually large man, well-proportioned, 
an excellent engineer, linguist, and acutely conscious of 
the social problems facing Mexico. I was given a desk for 
my headquarters and presented with maps and data on the 
Guatimape" project in the state of Durango and was told to 
leave just as soon as I felt I was ready. I rented a room 
in a Mexican home with the full intention of learning Spanish 


Packard: without delay--a task which I neglected shamefully because 
the young Mexican men who were assigned to me wanted to 
speak English. As I remember it, I never occupied the room 
because I left for the field almost immediately. 

I was met in Durango by an American engineer, Fred Hardy, 
representing the J.G. White Co. of New York. He was an 
old Mexican hand, who had a Mexican wife and could, of course, 
speak perfect Spanish. We drove the sixty-odd miles to 
Guatimapein a model-T Ford, stopping for lunch in a small 
adobe town where I had my first acquaintance with a typical 
toilet in a small Mexican town. The seats were raised 
three or four feet above the floor as a precautionary 
measure. The throne, as these seats were called, was 
located over a yard where pigs had free play. I found this 
arrangement much better than others that I encountered where 
you entered the pig yard, picked up a stick provided for the 
purpose , and then picked your location with your back to 
the adobe wall, while the stick kept the pigs at bay! 

In any case, we finally reached Guatimape", which is a 
stop on the railroad running north from Durango which was 
designed to serve the interests of Hacienda Guatimape", one of 
the famous old Spanish holdings devoted to cattle raising. 
The fighting bulls sent from Guatimape" to the bull ring in 
Mexico City were famous. Juan Lasoya, the owner of the 
hacienda had but recently returned from exile in Canada 
where he had gone during the Pancho Villa days. He and his 


Packard: frail wife were very lovable characters. Some years later 
I was a guest in their home for a month or so. 

I was housed, with several others, in one of several 
high-ceilinged rooms surrounding a court, fifty or sixty 
feet square. It was the original hacienda building, made 
of adobe, with thick walls. The peon workers lived in 
long rows of adobe houses clustered around the main build 
ings reminding me of medieval estates I had seen in Europe. 
The Guatimape" River, which was to supply the irrigation 
water for the project, ran through the hacienda dividing 
the building area into two parts. The proposed project 
contained about 50,000 acres. The land formed the basin 
of a laguna (lake) which had no outlet. A tunnel was to 
be driven through the hills to provide drainage. But 
I found the soils to be impossible. The content of salts, 
particularly sodium carbonate (black alkali) was far above 
any possible tolerance. I therefore had to submit an 
adverse report. 

I found that the land had been sold to the government 
by four army generals, one of whom was living on the hacienda 
while I was there. I decided to tell the general what I 
thought of the project before leaving for Mexico City to 
file my report. He said he thought I had a lot of nerve to 
talk to him as I did but added that it made no difference 
to him because the land had been paid for. He added, too, 
that he knew the land was no good. In any case three of 


Packard: these four generals were shot before I left Mexicotwo during 
an attempted revolution, the other in a brawl. ( Laughter ) 
In contrast the Mexican technicians who were working with 
me were delighted that I would report against a project 
that had been approved by an important American engineering 
company. The Commission was understandably concerned over 
my report and sent two chemists to GuatimapS to check my 
findings. They reported a higher concentration of salts 
that I had found and the project was abandoned. 

The work, however, was not without its comical side. 
Two of my assistants, who were supposed to be soils men, 
had a difficult time getting adjusted to the primitive 
conditions at GuatimapS. At one time I had to go to Mexico 
City and left instructions for considerable field work to 
be done while I was gone. When I returned I found that 
neither of the men had left the hacienda buildings and had 
used the small amount of alcohol we had planned to use in 
testing for black alkali, for alcohol rubs. 

Baum: What was your relationship with the J.G. White Co.? Why 
did the Commission hire you? 

Packard: I was employed directly by the Commission and had no relation 
ship with the White Co. , except as an independent technician 
whose duty was to check up on the soils and agricultural 
aspects of the projects the company was working on. The 
Commission wanted a completely independent study of the 
agricultural and economic features of the project which the 


Packard: J.G. White Co. had approved from an engineering standpoint. 
The Tightness of this judgment was confirmed in the case 
of the Guatimape" project which had been approved for construc 
tion by the White Co. before I made my report. 

Western Chihuahua 

Packard: A somewhat similar situation developed on the second 
project I was asked to examine. It was on the Papigochic 
River in Western Chihuahua, a tributary of the Yaqui. The 
chief engineer on the project was a dam expert. His book 
of dam construction was a standard text. He had found 
a wonderful place to build a dam and was very anxious to go 
ahead. But the soil and topography were very unfavorable. 
The mesa land to be irrigated was underlaid with an iron- 
like hard-pan, often exposed on the surface and generally 
too close to the surface for successful crop production. 
As it happened, Mr. Frank Weymouth, one-time chief engineer 
for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, had been hired by the 
White Co. , and was visiting the project for the first time 
while I was there. He sought me out and expressed his fear that 
the project would not be successful. He supported my 
adverse report. He became the chief engineer for the company, 
a fact which gave me a good deal of encouragement, because, 
by this time, the over-all manager of the White Co. was 
ready to "boil me in oil," as he jocularly told Emma at 
an Embassy reception. ( Laughter ) 


Baum: I should think so. ( Laughter ) 

Packard: There was one incident that was rather interesting. On 
the way going out to the project I had hired a car and a 
driver in Chihuahua to make this trip, which would take 
more than a day. We camped out that night in the patio 
of a rancho, consisting of adobe buildings on three sides 
and open on the fourth. I was awakened by something 
tugging at my pants which I used as a pillow. I raised 
up on an elbow to face a Mexican, crouched by my head. He 
obviously wanted my pocket-book. He was apparently as 
frightened as I, because he ran back into one of the 
buildings. Th whole group of Mexicans stood around as 
we cooked our supper and breakfast on an open fire but 
nothing was said about the night s incident. 

My third assignment was also in Chihuahua. The head 
quarters were at Meoqui on the Conchos River in the central 
part of the state. The project had been rejected by the 
J.G. White Company, perhaps because it involved no large 
dam. ( Laughter ) After spending some time going over the 
area to be irrigated, I recommended that the project be 
built. As a result, the engineering features of the project 
were re-examined and the project was approved and is now in 
successful operation. 


The Rio Salado Project 

Packard: My fourth assignment was on the Don Martin project 

on the Rio Salado in the state of Nuevo Le6n in northeastern 
Mexico, not far from the Texas border. In this case the 
project involved the building of a dam to store water for 
the irrigation of a rather large area on both sides of the 
river. The American engineer in charge was Andy Weiss, an 
old Bureau of Reclamation man. On examination we found 
that much of the land was underlaid with layers of solid 
gypsum, which made the project questionable. By that time 
Mr. A. Kocher , a veteran soil survey man from the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, had been added to my staff. 
By making a reconnaissance survey of the soil conditions 
on both sides of the river lower down, we were able to select 
an alternate area of excellent brown loam soils, well adapted 
for irrigation. In facing this discovery the engineers 
found that they could get water on the lower land at an 
estimated saving of half a million pesos. The project 
was approved and is in successful operation. 

Chief of the Department of Agronomy of the National Irrigation 

Baum: Let s see, you had four temporary assignments? 

Packard: No. After my report on the Guatimape" project, the Commission 


Packard: appointed me as head of the soils department of the Commission. 
My title was "Jefe De Departmento Agronomico del Comision 
Nacional de Irrigacion," and I was placed on a salary of 
$10,000.00 per year. This was engineered, in part, by 
Professor Charles Shaw who had recommended me in the first 
place. He had spent a month of his summer vacation in 
reporting on a project in Central Mexico and consequently 
had an opportunity to confer with the Commission regarding 
my work. 

Baum: Were you paid in dollars? 
Packard: No. I was paid in gold pesos which had a stable value. 

Sometimes I would be paid by check and sometimes in fifty- 
peso gold coins, which was quite a thrill. Silver pesos, 
however, were what we used to pay bills. On trips I would 
have to carry sacks of silver pesos. When my official 
appointment was made, the Department of Agronomy of the 
Commission became the official soil survey agency of the 
government. A laboratory was established in Mexico City 
where all soil analyses were made thereafter. 
Baum: What kind of work was done in the field? 
Packard: Soil surveys were made with the use of plane tables. 

Boundaries of different soil types were recorded as accurately 
as possible. A new method was used in studying the soil 
profiles. Typical soil areas would be selected and holes 
dug to a depth of four feet or more as conditions dictated. 
The holes were large enough to permit one man to enter and 


Packard: study the soil stratification as a means of determining its 
relative suitability for irrigation. Labor was cheap and 
the method was useful because it avoided guesswork. The 
various types of soil, based upon these rather careful 
field studies would be classified, given a name and mapped 
in color, following the techniques employed by the Soil 
Survey Department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Where possible the soil maps were transferred to 
topographical maps on which the distribution system would 
be laid out and the land subdivided into farms of varying 
sizes depending upon the character of both the soil and 
the topography. 

Problems of Land Holding 

Baum: Was your department in charge of land settlement too? 

Packard: No, it was not. But your question raises an interesting 
issue. The Irrigation Commission was responsible for 
developing much needed water supplies. Rainfall in Mexico 
is seasonal. Without storage the runoff during the rainy 
season left the land dry during the dry months. Only by 
storing this runoff could the land be made really productive 
Under irrigation almost anything could be grown and in some 
cases two or three crops a year could be secured. It was 
my responsibility to see that water was developed for the 
best land available. 

The settlement of the land was the responsibility of 


Packard: those in charge of the land reform program. My contact 
with this group, unfortunately for me, was very slight. 
One reason for this was an understandable disinclination on 
the part of the Mexican agrarian leaders to want advice 
from the outside. 

The land problem in Mexico had its roots in the pre- 
Spanish Aztec days when Indian villages had their ejidos, 
or common lands, capable of meeting the communal needs 
of the people. These ejidos were recognized, at first, 
by the Spanish conquerors. But as time went on the village 
lands or ejidos were incorporated into large estates by 
various means. This anti-social action reached a climax 
under Porfirio Diaz whose arbitrary action brought on the 
Madera Revolution of 1910, a portion of which I encountered 
when we lived in Imperial Valley, as previously recorded. 

The first land reform laws were passed in 1915 and later 
incorporated in the famous Article 27 of the Constitution 
of 1917, which provided for the breaking up of large land 
holdings to be distributed to individual landless families. 
This alone left the little fellow at the mercy of loan 
sharks and others who could exploit their ignorance, their 
lack of capital, and their inability to act collectively 
in their own individual interests. Many considered the 
small holdings to be subsistence homesteads which would 
relieve the hacienda owner from a traditional responsibility 
for their welfare while still providing him with a cheap 


Packard: unorganized labor supply. This was the status of the land 
reform program when I entered Mexico. But a great forward 
step was made in 1926 through the establishment of a National 
Land Bank, in a position to give credit to ejidos in nine 
states to start with. Agricultural Credit Societies, subsidiary 
to the Bank, were established throughout the country. 

Baum: Were you involved in any of this new movement? 

Packard: No. I was interested in what was being done but I had 

no responsibility in that field. Although I made planned 
subdivisions on one or two projects, I was never involved 
in actual settlement. 

The problems facing the Mexican people are the same 
as the problem facing people everywhere. The population 
explosion and the inadequacy of the means of production 
exert an inexorable influence. When I went to Mexico in 
1926 the population was a little over fifteen million. 
It is now about forty million and still increasing. The 
land problem itself was not different basically from the 
land problem faced by the Resettlement Administration in 
the United States or the land problem faced by Russia 
following the Revolution of 1917. The question is this, 
"How can the economies and efficiency of industrial pro 
duction be attained in agriculture without losing the social 
values associated, traditionally, with the family farm?" 

Although I was not involved in the settlement program 
I became interested in housing on farms. With the consent 


Packard: of the Commission I employed a young architect, named 
Arturo Albuto, to work on the housing problem. He was 
a graduate of the Architecture School in Mexico City but 
was the son of a peon and had been raised under the primitive 
conditions of the Mexican rural villages and consequently 
understood village life. My purpose was to adapt modern 
ideas of convenience, sanitation, and the like but using 
adobe as the building materials and using thatched roofs 
where conditions made this practical. Some of these designs 
are included in the material being submitted with this 
report . 

Baum: They look like very simple houses to me. But I suppose 
they were quite an improvement over what they had. 

Packard: Yes, they were simple. They had to be to come within the 
financial resources of these very low income people. They 
did represent a very decided improvement. This effort was 
a beginning which I understand had an effect on building 
programs in later years. 

An incident will illustrate what I mean. One of my 
assistants and I had to spend a night in a typical adobe 
house belonging to a sheep herder. The gas in our car 
contained water and we had to leave the car and look for 
some place to stay. We were picked up by this sheep man 
who was riding in a two-wheeled cart pulled by a burro. 
He invited us to stay overnight. For supper we had goat s 
milk and corn bread cooked in an iron skillet on an open 


Packard: fire in one corner of the room. We slept on the floor 

in a room with no door, and I had to rescue my leather boots 
from a sow and her pigs who wandered in during the night. 
After a breakfast of more corn meal bread and goat s milk, 
we started to walk to camp about twenty miles away when 
we were picked up by some friends who had started a search 
for us when we failed to show up for breakfast. 

Baum: Then you were responsible for the physical and economic 
feasibility of the irrigation projects only. 

Packard: Yes. I had no official connection with the ejido movement, 
j This does not mean that I was disinterested in the problem. 
I conferred with local officials of the agricultural banks, 
particularly in the Laguna area of the state of Coahuila-- 
a rich cotton producing area where a special effort was 
made to make the ejido system work. I attended a meeting 
in one of the ejido settlements, where plans for the 
coming year were discussed. I was impressed by the difficulties 
presented in trying to implement a producer-type cooperative. 

Baum: Did you think it was a successful system? 

Packard: I was unable to make any satisfactory judgement. My 
friend, Clarence Senior, whom I worked with in Puerto 
Rico some years later, made a study of the ejido system 

and published his findings in a book entitled Land Reform 

in Democracy in which he extols the system. His analysis, 

however, does not convince me that the ejido system provides 
a final answer to the agrarian problem. 


Packard: I came in contact with two Mennonite settlements, one 

in the state of Chihuahua and the other in northern Durango. 
They lived in adobe houses with dirt floors. But they 
were often in two-story houses and were always white-washed 
inside and kept very clean. The houses were located 
in villages on the European plan. The farms were large 
enough to support a family rather well. A forty-acre farm 
was perhaps the average. This was much larger than an ejido 
allotment. The Mennonites used tractors and had threshing 
machines and the like. As a result of their superior 
husbandry their yields were much above the yields on 
neighboring Mexican farms. They were tolerated by the 
Mexican Government but there was little contact between 
the Mennonites and their Mexican neighbors, at least 
while I was there. 

After finishing the Don Martin project survey I was 
assigned to various other projects. Most of the work 
however consisted of reconnaisance studies of general areas 
where the Commission thought projects might be established. 

Mexican Co-Workers 

An important part of my responsibility was to train 
Mexican technicians to carry on the work when I might 
leave. The "Departmento de Agronomo" became a permanent 
institution with responsibility for all soil survey work 
in Mexico. A well-equipped soils laboratory was established 


Packard: in Mexico City as headquarters for the soils department. 

There was a very good feeling among the members of the 
group. I amused them by my expression, "All right, let s 
vamonos," as I did many years later in Greece by constantly 
saying "endoxie pame" (All right, let s go.) The young 
men who joined me in Guatimape stayed with me during the 
duration of my stay in Mexico. I recall Guillermo Liera 
with greatest affection. He was a graduate from the Agricul 
tural College in Juarez across the river from El Paso and 
could, quite understandably speak excellent English. I 
often played tennis with the very charming Durango girl 
who later became his wife. I was also honored by being 
the godfather of their children. Liera became governor of 

the state of Sinaloa and later became Secretary of the 

Interior in Mexico City. 

Antonio Rodriguez was another of my assistants who 
became a close friend. He had been educated in Texas as 
an engineer but chose to switch to soils while working on 
the GuatimapS project. 

One of these men, Mr. Salorzano, was the husband of 
President Calles niece. He showed up one morning saying 
that he had been assigned to me. I sized him up immediately 
as a man who probably would not fit into the organization 
at all. He was obviously a politician. But the commission 
wanted me to carry on with him in any case, which proved 

T! See the book on Sinaloa and the letter from Liera in 
1940, in the Packard Papers in the Bancroft Library. 


Packard: to be a little difficult. He wouldn t show up until ten 

or eleven o clock in the morning, if at all, and never was 
able to do anything that was constructive. 

After a trip to the Meoqui project where we were to hold 
a summer school on soil surveying. Prof. Charles Shaw was 
to come down from the University of California to conduct 
this summer school and all of the employees of my depart 
ment were to be there for special training. Salorzano 
was among them. When we got back, and his expense account 
came across my desk I found that he was charging fourteen 
pesos for a room I knew cost him two pesos. I saw other 
items which were exaggerated in the same way. So I said, 
"Well, I can t approve this expense account. You re 
making more money on your room than some of these other 
boys who graduated from the same school you did are getting 
as salary. I can t approve this." He was obviously vexed. 
He grabbed the account off my desk very irritably and said, 
"All right, I ll change it." On examining the new account 
the next morning I found the room rent was two pesos. But 
the total of the bill was exactly the same as it was the 
day before. So I said, "It s the total that s got to be 
reduced to a reasonable amount or I will not approve it." 
This time he was not just vexed. He was mad and said he d 
get it through the Controller anyway. He didn t have to 
have my approval. ( Laughter ) And so he sailed out of 
the office and I called the head of the Commission, Mr. Sanchez 


Packard: Mejorada, and told him what had happened. He said that 

that was precisely why the Commission sent Salorzano to me. 
They knew he would pad expense accounts and thought that 
I would catch it. I was told that the Commission would 
back me up and the bill would not be paid. 

But three days later I went on another assignment to 
the Yaqui Valley in the state of Sonora. I was there for 
about a month when I saw in the paper that the commission 
had been discharged by the new president, President Portes, 
and that a new commission had been appointed. So I thought, 
now is the time for me to get back to Mexico City, which 
I did. On entering the office of the new commission I 
encountered my old friend Salorzano sitting in the seat 
of power. He was the executive secretary of the new board. 
So, without any discussion at all I said, "Well, Mr. 
Salorzano, how much time will you give me?" And he said, 
"Can you finish things up in a month, Mr. Packard?" And 
I said, "Yes, I can." So that was the end of my job in 
Mexico. ( Laughter ) 

Personal Experiences, Violence and Anti -Government Forces 

Baum: Well, what was Mrs. Packard doing when you were in Mexico? 

Packard: She remained in California for a little more than a year 
and then joined me. This simple statement, though , does 
not present the full facts. When I left for Mexico, Clara 
was in her senior year in high school in Palo Alto and 


Packard: Emmy Lou was not at all well. My appointment was on a 
temporary basis at first and Mexico was still in a rev 
olutionary period. In view of all of these factors it seemed 
wise to have Emma and the two girls remain in Palo Alto, at 
least until Clara finished high school. 

My mother died in the summer of 1927 and I returned 
to Pasadena for the funeral and to be with my bereaved 
father for as long a time as I could spare. I took advan 
tage of the leave to return to Palo Alto with Emma to 
decide what to do about Emmy Lou s illness which had been 
diagnosed by Dr. Russell Lee of Palo Alto as diabetes. 
On the doctor s advice I took Emmy Lou to the Sansum Clinic 
in Santa Barbara where she remained for two months. She 
was one of several young persons to be put on insulin. 
Both she and Emma became thoroughly familiar with all aspects 
of her case and with the use of insulin so it was possible 
for her to make the trip to Mexico City when the time came. 

But this took time and we decided to have Clara join 
me on the Meoqui project following her graduation. I met 
Clara at El Paso and took her to Meoqui where we settled 
in an adobe house with dirt floors and a big luscious fig 
tree in the patio. When my work was finished we went to 
Mexico City taking rooms in the Hotel Geneve. 

Baum: When did Mrs. Packard and Emmy Lou join you two? 

Packard: It was some months later and therein lies a story which 
Emma can tell better than I. 


September 24, 1926 


Walter E. Packard, Chief 

of Irrigation Projects 

Tells of Work 



Says President Calles Is 

Honest, Capable and 

Far Seeing 

Walter E. Packard, chief of the 
division of agriculture of the Na 
tional Irrigation Commission of 
Mexico, called to Pasadena from 
his work in the southern republic 
by the death of his mother, Mrs. 
Clara A. Packard, finds that Mex 
ico, rich in resources but com 
paratively poor in ready funds, nas 
a bright future under the fairest 
and most intelligent president it 
has ever had. Far from being 
"bolshevistic," the government of 
Mexico is proceeding to develop 
the country on a sound economic 
basis for the good of the people of 
the republic, he says. 

Mr. Packard, chosen among ag 
riculturists of the United States to 
lead in the development of the vast 
resources in land and water of the 
republic of Mexico, has just got 
well started towards a survey of 
numerous irrigation and farming 
projects throughout most of the 
states of Mexico, those in the arid 
or semi-arid regions about and 
north of the City of Mexico, we 
left his work in the state of Du- 
rango to come to Pasadena, and 
will go back immediately to take 
up the important work again. Mr. 
Packard s friends state that no one 
is better qualified to serve the 
Mexican government in this vital 
work than he, his background be 
ing over ten years in investga- 
tional and experimental work in 
California, two years as traveling 
instructor for the University of 
California, College of Agriculture, 
,uid two years study of agricultural 
economics at Harvard University,. 
besides being chief aid to F.hvood 
Mead, national director of reclamfc- 
tioii, for two vears. 

Pleased With Work 

"Jefe el Departmcnte Keonomico 
Nationale Comision de Irrigacion" 
is the title on the main entrance 
of Mr. Packard s office suite in 
Mexico City. His work is said to 
have greatly pleased President 
Calles, and it is believed that he 
will be kept in Mexico for several 
years to see that the projects he 
recommends are properly carried 
out. While in California he will 
secure a competent engineer to 
take charge of the soil surveys in 
the irrigation projects he is now 
working on. 

Contrary to expectations, the 
climate in Mexico is delightful at 
this time of the year, being similar 
to the California spring, ^fr. Pack 
ard says. He has experienced 
more warm days during the past 
week in Pasadena than he has felt 
during his three months stay in 
Mexico. The chief drawback to life 
in Mexico is the poor food and 
poorer roads in the country dis 
tricts. These he must endure in 
helping to build up the agricul 
tural industry of the republic. Fri- 
joles and tortillas three times a day 
is his fare if he can get them, and 
the roads are frightful. 

Huge Sum Available 
Some time ago, the Mexican 
government organized the National 
Commission of Irrigation, which is 
similar to the American Reclama 
tion Service, and a revolving fund 
of 60,000,000 pesos was voted to 
grease the wheels which were to 
liquidate for the benefit of settlers 
the great latent agricultural and 
water resources of the republic. 
Mr. Packard was secured as chief 
of the division of agriculture in 
this commission, and J. D. White, 
noted New York engineer, was 
hired to take charge of the con 
struction of dams and waterways. 
The first work to be done was to 
survey the projects, find out what 
the systems would cost, and report 
to the commission. This work is 
being done by Mr. Packard with a 
large force of American and Mexi 
can engineers. 

Some very high and costly dam? 
have already been authorized and 
will be constructed under the new 
system. One project in Michoacan 
has already been passed by the 
commission, and the report on the 
Durango projects will be ready 

Under Feudal System 
Mexico is just now emerging 
from a feudal system similar to that 
in vogue in Europe some years 
ago. The large landed estates or 
haciendas were and are held by fam 
ilies who leased small farms aver 
aging about seven hectares to in 
dividual Mexicans. These farmers 
raised just about enough to keep 
body and soul together. They had 
no surplus to trade for clothing, 
books, dairy products, implements 
or house furnishings. 

Under President Calles new sys 
tem, these huge haciendas are to be 
subdivided into ranches of forty 
hectares, or about ninety acres, 
and leased or sold to the people on 
easy terms. With larger ranches, 
the Mexican farmer can raise a 
surplus which can be sold, thus se 
curing funds for necessities and 
so me luxuries, and bettering the 
economic condition of the country. 

Are Co-operating 
In almost every case the own- 


22 bh 


(Continued from Pngc Stvtnittm) 

ers of these large estates are co 
operating with the government in 
splitting up of the huge haciendas 
for sale to the people. In some 
cases the government buys out the 
owners, paying cash; in others the 
government puts up half the 
money, and in f few the hacienda 
owners furnish! all the capital to 
develop the water system and 
place the farms on sale. 

"\Vater is a national asset in 
Mexico, and should be here," says 
Mr. Packard. "We go to the own 
ers of haciendas where there is a 
water supply, and first try and in 
duce him to subdivide his land, 
and construct and finance the ir 
rigation projects. We impress upon 
him the necessity of conserving 
the water for irrigation as a na 
tional resource. This is the begin 
ning of an attempt to work out the 
agrarian problems of Mexico. 

"Most of the crops of Northern 
Mexico, chiefly Mexican June corn, 
red beans or frijoles, chiles and 
potatoes, are raised without irriga 
tion. The rainfall is sufficient for 
the full development of these 
crops about three years in five. In 
the other two years the farmer 
loses his crops, and privation is the 
result. We are trying to make 
farming a safe economic project 
with the aid of these irrigation 
projects. These water projects will 
be established under the farm ad 
viser system, and livestock will be 
introduced to supplement field and 
orchard crops. A great national 
system of highways is also being 

Americans Safe 

"The feeling is very friendly to 
wards Americans in Mexico now, 
and I am as safe in the interior of 
the country now as I am in Pasa- : 

Heads Important 
Work in Mexico 


Agricultural Expert Here Tells 

What Republic Is Doing 

dcna. The malcontents are being 
disarmed as are all tlie people ex 
cept government officials. Mexico 
is very well policed, and President 
Calles is a sincere, honest and 
capable official. 

"As regards construction of 
Boulder Dam, my belief is that the 
Mexican government will request 
some sort of treaty setting forth the 
exact amount of water which will 
accrue to Mexican lands before this 
great project Is commenced. This 
amount of water, probably, will be 
based on that used at the time of 
treaty for Mexican lands south of 
the Imperial Valley in Lower Cali 


Mrs. : Walter had arranged for me to meet him in Mexico City 

in the fall of 1927. He assured me that everything was 

safe in spite of occasional train derailments and the like. 
So Emmy Lou and I went to Pasadena for a few days visit 
before leaving for Mexico. But when I emerged from the 
ticket office where I had just purchased the two tickets, 
a special extra paper was on the stand, carrying the news 
that a bridge had been blown up on the line I was to take 
and that travel was unsafe. ( Laughter ) I cancelled the 
tickets and went back to Father Packard s house to await 
developments. In answer to my urgent telegram, Walter 
again assured me that I would be safe, especially if I 
took the shorter line from Laredo to Mexico City, in part, 
because no trouble had occurred on that line. 

But as luck would have it, I picked a train that was 
blown up. I can tell the story best by reading from a 
letter I sent to my mother at the time. 

October 25, 19%7 

Dear Mother: 

We have been in Mexico City a week today and have 
only been held up once and that was on the way down. 
We left Laredo about 11 p.m. last Monday, expecting 
to be in Mexico City at 8 p.m. Tuesday. I woke about 
sun-up Tuesday and looked out to see a wild country much 
like Arizona or Texas though with more vegetation- 
huge cactus and mesquite trees with mountains or foot 
hills in the background. I decided to get up and dress 
about 7 o clock. Everyone else on the train seemed 
to be asleep. I had just about finished dressing and 
was nearly ready to go back to the berth when "Bang" 
went a fairly heavy explosion followed by the crack 
of rifle shots. I had just been mentally congratulating 
myself that now it was daylight we would likely not 
be held up. But I immediately recognized the rifle 


Mrs. : fire and the smell of burned powder and knew we were 
Packard in for something. I wasn t frightened for some reason 
but thought of Emmy Lou and crawled on my hands and 
knees to the berth. I pulled her onto the floor. She 
was laughing, and skeptical that it was a holdup. But 
then the other passengers began to appear in their 
pajamas. It was funny to see them lying along 
the aisle. However, the firing stopped and the conductor 
came into the car and told us to get dressed and to 
keep away from the windows and that we were safe , they 
might go through the car and take our money but would 
not hurt us. Some of the men passengers were simply 
quaking from fright or nervousness, especially two 
government officials. The porter came through and gave 
everyone a stiff glass of cognac. I peeped out the 
crack in the curtain and right below my window were three 
of the revolutionaries, or bandits- -whatever they were. 
They were exactly like a Hollywood movie outf it--bright 
serapes and mounted on mustangs. All carried rifles. 
Of course the train had stopped at the first bang and 
there we stood a good four hour ride from the nearest 

A strapping American engineer came in from the 
coach ahead and said he had had a close call, as he 
was in front of the car next to where the blast struck. 
They had put a charge of dynamite on the tracks to 
blow up the engine or the baggage car to get a big 
shipment of gold they thought was being shipped from 
Monterey to the Bank of Mexico in Mexico City. The 
blast hit the second class coach instead. Mr. Scott, 
the engineer, was working with a telephone company and 
said as soon as it was safe to venture outside he would 
tap the wires that were near the track and call for 

In the meantime we watched the bandits, of whom 
we counted about forty or fifty, take the strong boxes 
out of the express car and drag them about a hundred 
yards away and blow them up. They then crowded about 
and took whatever there was. In about half an hour they 
were all through and rode away through the brush. 
Everyone in the car was jabbering in English and Spanish. 
The conductor came in and gave us a speech in Spanish-- 
which was not translated to me. But I found that it 
was a polite assurance from the bandits that they had 
no intention of bothering the passengers. All they 
were interested in was the big loot. 

Mr. Scott came in soon after the bandits left and 
asked if any of the American women could do first aid. 


Mrs. : Up to that time I had no idea that anyone was hurt. 

Packard We went three cars ahead and I never hope to see a worse 
sight. The peons car was simply in shambles. The 
blast had torn out most of the floor in the middle of 
the car and six or eight desperately wounded were lying 
around groaning. They had already moved some of the 
lesser wounded to the other coach. The men found a 
first aid kit in the Pullman car and as there was not 
a single doctor or nurse aboard we simply had to do 
the best we could. I was the only one who knew how to 
give a hypodermic, thanks to my insulin training, so 
I went at that while the men put tourniquets on terribly 
wounded legs. We could find only five shots of morphine, 
which was not nearly enough. I gave them to the ones 
who seemed the worst and it was hard to say who needed 
it the most. One poor chap who had lost a foot had 
to go without morphine so I ransacked my own kit and 
found enough sleeping tablets to put him under. Later 
we found a woman in the other car who needed relief 
badly, but all I could find for her was the last of 
a little cough medicine, containing codeine, but it 
was not enough to do her any good. I had to laugh, 
almost, when I found myself about to pour some Williams 
shaving lotion down her throat, which was in a bottle 
similar to the one containing the cough medicine. We 
put splints on ever so many broken legs and then went 
around with hot water, cotton and iodine, and sterilized 
and dressed as many of the cuts as we could. After 
an hour and a half, we had done as much as we could, so 
escaped to the diner to get some coffee, as it was 
nine-thirty and we had had no breakfast. 

The relief train did not come for four hours. Finally 
the Mexican Red Cross took the wounded to San Luis Potosi 
and we finally went on our way after seven hours delay. 

Emmy Lou did not see any of the bad part so she 
thought it was quite a lark and thought that we had 
something more in the way of experience than Walter or 
Clara, who have not been held up once. She had a lot 
of fun counting bandits through the crack in the curtain. 
She has been drawing them ever since. 

I forgot to say we had an armed car attached to the 
train but the soldiers were outnumbered three to one 
and ran from the train to hide in the brush until the 
bandits left which was the best thing for us because 
there was no more shooting. 

Packard: About a month later Clara and I were in a day coach 
attached to a freight train with an armored car full of 


Packard: soldiers forming the caboose. The train slowed down at an 
isolated spot and the soldiers began firing at horsemen 
riding around the train. They had put some ties in the 
track to stop the train at a point which seemed favorable 
for a holdup. We and the others in the car dropped to 
the floor, built up barricades with our suitcases, and waited 
for the shooting to stop. I was, of course, frightened 
because I had heard enough stories of violence to be cautious. 
But Clara was excited and called to me saying, "Now Emmy 
Lou can t say she is the only one that has been held up." 
In our case the soldiers got out of the car and formed a 
skirmish line lying down flat between occasional advances. 
Finally the bandits went down into a ravine out of range 
and we proceeded on our way after the conductor and the 
brakeman removed the ties from the track. 

Baum: Were these just bandits? 

Packard: They may have been in this case but most of the trouble of 

this kind was the work of the Christeros--armed groups fighting 
for the Church. Their objective was to embarrass the gov 
ernment . 

There was no question about the identity of the attackers 
on another occasion when I was on the main train on the 
El Paso-Mexico City line. My train, carrying two armored 
cars, was preceded by an engine and caboose to serve as 
a pilot in case the track had been tampered with. In this 
case, the outside rails on a sharp turn had been loosened 


Packard: by drawing out the spikes. When the pilot engine hit the 
curve it ran off the track and turned over on its side. 
Our train stopped and switched one of the armored cars off 
the train and carried the soldiers down where they could 
fight. As I gathered the facts, about 150 Christeros had 
attacked the small group on the pilot engine and caboose. 
They were carrying banners reading, "Vive Cristo rey," the 
usual Christero slogan. Just what happened I do not know, 
except that when our train was pulled up and we had to walk 
around the wreck, the soldiers were carrying dead Christeros 
from the brush-covered hill and burying them in a trench 
dug along the right of way. The engineer and fireman had 
been badly burned by escaping steam and were carried to 
Aguascalientes in our car. 

Baum: Was it common for track to be taken up? 

Packard: Yes, it was. It was because of this that the device of the 
pilot train of engine and caboose was adopted. That the 
trouble encountered was instigated by the Church was well 
authenticated by the Church itself. 

One time our criada in Mexico City brought us a little 
pamphlet published by the Church and circulated surreptitiously 
by the people. It listed the things that the Church had 
done during the past month--the haciendas they d burned, 
the trains they d destroyed, and the bridges blown up. 

The fight between the Church and the government started 
shortly after I arrived. The Calles regime had confiscated 


Packard : 


large Church-owned properties as part of the revolutionary 
land reform program. I was in the city of Chihuahua on t h e 
Sunday on which the churches were closed. I was awakened 
by the unusual silence. I had become accustomed to the din 
of church bells in the morning. I got dressed and walked 
over to the main cathedral about two blocks frtfn the hotel 
where I found soldiers guarding the church entrance and 
groups of people standing around wondering what to do. 
Although violence was anticipated there was none, at least 
where I was. The Church fight continued as long as I was 
in Mexico. Every train I traveled on had one or two armored 
cars attached. 

The attitude of the conservative supporters of the Church 
was revealed to me one evening during the Hoover-Al Smith 
Presidential campaign. Mr. Gomez Palacio, a Cornell-trained 
engineer whom I got to know intimately, expressed his opinion 
that if Al Smith should win, the fight against the Church 
in Mexico would be stopped. During the conversation he 
said that he contributed regularly to the Church s attacks 
on trains, etc. The motive, he said, was to embarrass the 
government. When I told him that all of the Americans I 
had talked to were mad at the Church rather than the 
government when a hacienda was burned or a train derailed, 
he was nonplussed but unconvinced. 

Was all of this trouble a part of the Church fight? What 
about the bandit stories we hear about? 


Packard: Of course, not all of the troubles involved the Church. There 
was one case in Durango, for example, where a bandit named 
Galindo almost dominated the area around Guatimape". Nobody 
ever dared go out very far alone because they were afraid 
of being caught by Galindo and held for ransom. He con 
sidered himself to be a kind of Robin Hood. He called 
himself General Galindo. One time when the engineers were 
examining a possible dam site not far from Guatimape" in 
came a cavalcade of horses and the men,with Galindo at the 
head. The group rode into camp. Galindo dismounted and, 
on seeing the wife of one of the engineers standing by the 
entrance to her tent, advanced and introduced himself. 
He said he wanted the Chinese cook to prepare a meal for 
all his men. They were hungry and wanted something to eat. 
When Mr. Hardy, the project manager appeared, he complied 
with Galindo s demand. But to be on the safe side, Galindo 
had the Chinese cook sample everything before he would 
let his men eat or drink. 

While waiting for the meal to be prepared Galindo 
visited with Mrs. Cosset, whose small daughter was with 
her. He took the girl s cup and tied it on his saddle and 
gave her his cup in exchange, saying that she should 
remember this as a gift from General Galindo. Mrs. Cosset 
then said that she would like a memento, too. So Galindo 
pulled one of his pistols out of its holster and gave her 
a bullet saying that she was the only person who had ever 


Packard: received a bullet from Galindo s gun and still lived. 
( Laughter ) 

After lunch he made a talk to his men telling them that 
what the Americans were doing was good for his country and that 
nothing should be done to interfere with the work. Following 
this talk he had a conference with Mr. Hardy, demanding 
15,000 pesos as protection money. I never knew whether or 
not this protection money was ever paid, but I presume it 
was . 

Baum: Was this the old protection shakedown? 

Packard: Yes, it was. But it had a romantic Mexican touch not associated 
with gangland in the states. 

Baum: How did it all end, or don t you know? 

Packard: The government decided to put a stop to it. One technique 

was to have some one of Galindo s family on every train going 
in or out of Durango. Mrs. Galindo usually was carried 
on the Guatimape 1 run which penetrated Galindo territory. 
Finally things got so hot that Galindo agreed to surrender 
at an hacienda near Guatimap that was owned by a graduate 
from the College of Agriculture of the University of Cal 
ifornia. But Galindo sensed a plot and in place of surrender 
ing, he left Mexico. The last I heard of him was a rumor 
that he was working as a laborer on the Southern Pacific 
tracks in California. 

Near the end of Galindo s career a group of soldiers 
known as the Black Battalion came into Guatimap hacienda, 


Packard: carrying a black flag. The leader boasted that he was out 

to get Galindo. He did his best but he, rather than Galindo, 
met his death. His body was found in a ravine some days 

Perhaps these stories are not significant enough to be 
included in this account. 

Baum: Oh, yes they are. They illustrate a phase of the Mexican 
problem which should be understood. 

Packard: Well, in that case there are two or three other incidents 
which I might tell about. 

One time when I was returning from Guatimape" to Durango 
by car at night we saw the central part of town all lighted 
up. It was midnight when the town was usually dark. When 
we reached the hotel we found all of our friends in the lobby 
talking about an attack that was expected at almost any 
time. A large Christero force was advancing toward the 
town from the south. A cavalry unit had been sent out to 
stop them, but no word had been received from them. Anxiety 
ended when the government force returned with the body of 
the Indian leader with a bullet hole in his forehead. His 
body was placed on exhibition in the center of the town 

There was plenty of precedent for this sort of thing. 
I have a vivid recollection of the postcard pictures of 
Pancho Villa s bullet-ridden body when he was ambushed coming 
into Durango from the hacienda where he was living. 


Baum: This didn t occur while you were there, did it? 

Packard: Oh no. Villa was killed some years before that. 

During part of the time I was in Durango the government 
forces were commanded by a general whom I consider to be 
a rather despicable character. His headquarters were in 
the hotel where I stayed part of the time. He had two 
police dogs to protect him from surprise attack. He often 
sat at the dining room table with his chair reversed straddling 
the chair as he would a horse. He was feared by everyone 
because he had despotic powers. I do not know how many 
people were shot while I was there, but rumor set the 
figure rather high. One story concerned a peon who had 
been brought in by the soldiers charged with holding up 
a railway station. The general was reported to have said, 
"Shoot him tonight, I ll hear the evidence in the morning." 

This was no stranger than the incident reported in 
one of the Mexico City newspapers during an attempted rev 
olution in the state of Vera Cruz. The headline reported 
the President as ordering that a captured general should 
receive a fair trial and that his body should then be shipped 
to Mexico City for burial. ( Laughter ) 

A psychological type of torture was illustrated by 
the way the major domo on a ranch, once a part of the 
Guatimapg Hacienda owned by Dr. Gray, was treated. 
He was arrested at the order of the general because he was 
an ardent Catholic and was supposed to be backing the Church 


Packard: in the current fight with the government. He was held in 
jail for several weeks and was told at intervals that he 
was to be shot that night. Finally he was taken out at 
night to the adobe wall where the executions took place, 
lined up against the wall, and then told to go home which 
he did without argument. 

While I was in Guatimape 1 one of the railroad bridges 
was blown up by the Christeros. A peon suspected of having 
a part in the dynamiting was caught and hung on a telephone 
pole which I had to pass when I went back and forth. The 
hanging body was supposed to be a warning. It was still 
there when I left. 

Baum: It doesn t sound like an entirely safe place to work. 
Packard: I was, of course, always in danger of being captured and 
held for ransom. But there was nothing else to do. I 
was there and I seldom felt any fear myself. I didn t 
think that anything would happen to me. But I did come 
pretty close to danger at different times. One time in 
a state in central Mexico, I was making a reconnaissance 
survey of quite an area. I was in a car and was driving 
on byroads and sometimes just paths going through the 
brush. I knew that in that general territory there was a 
threat of a battle between the Christeros and the government 
forces. I was warned not to go, but again, I didn t think 
there was any danger. But when I was going down a narrow 
road lined by maguey plants on both sides I was suddenly 


Packard: faced by a group of about twenty armed men all on horseback 
with cartridge belts across their chests, in good Mexican 
style. I had about ten rifles pointed at me and 1 was 
ordered to stop. And I stopped. ( Laughter ) I found that 
they were agaristas who were friendly to the government. 
They thought I was a spy and that I was a very suspicious 
character. They intended to arrest me. But the Mexican 
engineers who were with me convinced them that it was all 
right, that we were working for the government. We had 
government papers to prove it. And so they rather reluctantly 
let us go. 

Another time when I was traveling with the head of the 
commission, Mr. Sanchez Mejorada, when we were stopped by 
a mob in a village. They carried stones, muzzle -load ing 
guns, and knives and were very belligerent. I never 
knew just why they were suspicious of us, but they were 
very threatening. Mr. Mejorada got out of the car and 
walked right into the center of the group. He stood shoulders 
above the people around him. He met the mayor of the town 
and convinced him that we were all right. And so they let 
us on through. But that was a time when I was really quite 
frightened . 

Two more incidents, both involving Clara, stand out in 
my memory. The first ocurred when we attempted to make 
a short cut by driving down a creek bed. When trying to 
cross a sand bar, the car suddenly sank to the running 


Packard: board in quicksand. The driving wheel just churned up wet 
sand. As we surveyed the situation, Indian faces began to 
appear through the brush lining the stream. We motioned 
for help but not for quite a while did the Indians consent 
to help by getting logs and stones to build a solid foundation 
on which we could back out. We paid them well and convinced 
them that we were friends. 

The other incident occurred when we drove into the 
town of Ixmiquilpan in the state of Hidalgo. I parked the 
car in the inside patio of the hotel. Clara was wearing 
khaki riding pants and boots. I noticed that the little 
daughter of the proprietor looked rather puzzled. Clara 
went to her room and changed her clothes. When she came 
out the little girl ran to her mother saying, "Senorita, 
sefiorita." ( Laughter ) Later on the patio was filled, 
crowded with people watching and betting on a series of 
cock fights where the cocks were armed with razor sharp 
steel spurs fastened to their legs. Such fights were often 
fatal to both birds. The next afternoon I could not find 
Clara anywhere around the patio until I entered the bar 
room. There she was sitting at a table with three haviendados 
in full Mexican regalia including pistols. They were playing 
a simple game of matching cards where the money was in 
candy pesos which they had purchased for Clara. 

There was one incident that illustrated the attitude 
of the Spanish-Mexicans toward the Indians. There was a 


Packard: big New Year s Eve party given by the American engineers 

at Guatimapg who were living in one of the very large hacienda 
buildings with rooms surrounding a great court. We invited 
everyone to come to the party including the peons on the 
property. Many of them came. But the Spanish -Mexicans 
stayed away because of the peons attending this party. 
We danced with all the Indian girls. We made no distinctions 
at all. The next day, in talking to our Spanish-Mexican 
friends, we found that they were quite shocked by our 

Baum: Yes, it doesn t sound like the snobbery was American snobbery 
but upper class Mexican snobbery. 

Packard: Yes, exactly. There were two other illustrations of the 

same thing at GuatimapS. There were two Texans that operated 
a large ranch in the mountains about thirty miles north 
of GuatimapS. They invited three American engineers and 
myself to spend Christman at their hacienda. It was a 
troubled time and it was rather dangerous to make the trip. 
The Mexican driver of our car --we had two cars --was very 
frightened. We drove to a pre-arranged point where the two 
Texans met us with horses. 

Baum: Were the Mexican car drivers afraid of being captured by 
bandits or by revolutionaries? 

Packard: By bandits. We got to the hacienda after a two hour ride 
and attended a party that night. The peons came in on 
horseback and on foot, all carrying rifles and side arms. 


Packard: They tied their horses outside and came in, generally 
wearing their very large sombreros and started dancing 
in the dining room that had been cleared for the purpose. 
I was very particular to dance with every Indian girl, so 
there would be no prejudice shown. ( Laughter ) These 
guns looked pretty impressive. I didn t want to get involved 
in anything. ( Laughter ) But I left the party about one 
o clock in the morning and went back to my room. In the 
morning when it was time for breakfast. I found the 
dancing still going on. So when they left they went out 
to where they had their rifles stacked up, took the guns 
and went away. That night we listened to the radio and 
heard the mounties who were snowed in, in British Columbia, 
sending messages to their friends in Eastern Canada. 

Still another incident illustrates another phase of 
the Mexican problem as I saw it. I was a guest of the 
Irsokis whose hacienda joined Guatimape". They had re- 
occupied the Casa Grande which had been used by the peons 
during the Pancho Villa days. He was rather ruthless, I 
thought, in keeping peons away from the vicinity of the 
house. He would angrily say, "Eso es mi casa." We drove 
around the fields to inspect some special plantings of wheat, 
which occupied land almost immediately adjacent to the 
long rows of the peons abode houses. Irsoki saw some 
stray pigs in the wheat patch and got very angry. He drove 
back to the casa grande and got his shotgun. He intended 


Packard: to shoot as many of the pigs as he could, I was invited 

to go along but declined. I heard some shooting but chose 
not to ask questions. 

Packard ; 


Mrs. : 




Social Life in Mexico; Influence of Ambassador and Mrs. 
Dwight Morrow 

We haven t covered the diplomatic scene in Mexico City. 
No, we haven t. But it is a very interesting subject 
because Dwight Morrow brought a great change in the American s 
attitude toward the Mexicans. 

You were there before Morrow came down, is that right? 
Walter was. I came down the same month, I think. 
Could you notice the change in the atmosphere? 
Oh yes, quite definitely. Both Mr. and Mrs. Morrow were 
very sincerely interested in the Mexican people. They 
began by breaking down any social barriers between the 
Americans and the Mexicans. One subtle thing they did was 
to invite Charles Lindbergh to come to Mexico City during 
the height of his popularity. The attitude of the people 
toward him was illustrated by the action of an old Mexican 
who went to his church to ring the bells when Lindbergh 
had just flown over. When asked why he was ringing the 
bells he said, with tears in his eyes, "I m ringing them 
for that young American who is going to bring peace to my 
country." Lindbergh was advertised to arrive, I think, 
about nine or ten o clock one morning, but nobody knew 



Mrs. : 

exactly when. Radio communication hadn t been developed 
to the point it has now. President Calles had a box seat 
in bleachers built in a pasture that was the airport. He 
came out early in the morning and sat for hours waiting 
for Lindbergh to come. We drove out in a taxi and got 
into the crowd. There were thousands upon thousands of 
people, waiting, and waiting. I think they waited about 
two or three hours. Finally they began looking into the 
sky saying, "Eso es! Eso esl" (That is he!) And he finally 
landed . 

The next time I saw Lindy was at the American embassy 
that day. And Anne Morrow was there. I remember seeing 
her standing by the punch bowl talking to Lindy. Prohibition 
was on in America at that time, so the embassy never officially 
served anything intoxicating. So the punch conformed to the 
laws at home. ( Laughter ) So Lindy stayed for several 
days and there were big festivities, and parades in the 
street, and dances. 

Another thing Mrs. Morrow promoted was the Mexican 
dancers. The women from Jalisco had a particularly spec 
tacular costume which was perfectly beautiful. Very long, 
with a great white headdress and starched skirts, white 
and then purple over the white. I don t remember the 
details of it now, but they brought those to the football 
stadium in Mexico City hundreds of themand each area 
had its own particular typical dance in costume. It was 




very distinctive and beautiful. Then they had big athletic 
drills . 

It seemed to us that the arrival of Lindbergh sort of 
sparked a new attitude on the part of the Mexican people. 
There was a new spirit that the Morrows were trying to 
develop. Lindy did more than anything else to spark it 
all. Then, a little later the Morrows invited Will Rogers 
down who was, again, another man who could understand the 
Mexican people. And when he arrived at the station in 
Mexico City President Calles was there to meet him. Will 
Rogers said, "Remember, I m not a candidate for the presidency." 
And Calles laughed and said, "That s lucky because we shoot 
them before breakfast down here." Well, that was simply 
a reflection of the unstable conditions at the time. The 
candidate for the presidency, General Obregon had been shot. 
No, he was elected president and he was assassinated after 
he was elected. But several of the candidates for the 
presidency were shot. 

Will Rogers went out with the President on a special 
presidential train and was, again, a man who created a lot 
of friendship. 

One time, to show the conditions, we were leaving for 
Chihuahua on the El Paso train. And General Obregon had 
a private car on the back of the train. As soon as the 

3. Mrs. Packard s letters describing this period are included 

in the Walter and Emma Packard papers in the Bancroft Library, 


Packard: train pulled out he and his aides all came up into the 

pulltnan car because they were afraid the private car would 
be spotted by dynamiters and blown up. We went very slowly 
because of the danger of being derailed. We had armored 
cars on the train, in case of any hold up. 

Baum: Was this loosening of social relations favored by the upper 
class Mexicans, too, or was that mainly an appeal to the 
middle classes and the lower classes? 

Mrs. : I think it was largely to the upper class because the 

Morrows had great wealth and social prestige. Wealth 

is respected everywhere. If Mrs. Morrow did it, nobody 
else dared do less, so to speak. In their case I think 
it was largely the association with government people- 
Mexican people in the government. Of course, the old 
Diaz crowd were the "outs." Diaz had been defeated long 
before, but that element was more or less on the "outs" 
now. The new spirit and the new people were coming in 
and it was a terribly mixed period. The generals were 
politicians, of course, as they are in a good many Latin 
American countries. Calles was a general and he was sup 
posed, at the time, to be one of the better of the generals. 
He did promote this land division and yet it was the custom 
there, understood, that the President was supposed to have 
two percent of the government contracts. At least, we 
were told that. Anyway, Calles had plenty of money. 
Baum: More than his presidential salary? ( Laughter ) Well, I 


Baum: think that s a Latin American custom. 

Packard: In any case the people that we met, the Mexicans, were in 
general very high class people. One of the comments I 
made at the time shows how I felt. This is a letter to 
Professor Elliot Mears of Stanford, professor of geography. 

I have been very much impressed with the integrity 
and ability of the men in charge of affairs in Mexico. 
Their efforts seem to be dominated by a sincere desire 
to build up a social order suited to the needs of the 
Mexican people. Many of the leaders are idealists. 
But the program which has been adopted for the devel 
opment of Mexico seems to be founded on a sound basis. 
The agrarian reform is being followed up by the estab 
lishment of a sound banking system, including a land 
bank established on the principle of the Rural Credit 
Institutions of Germany. Extensive programs of highway 
development, irrigation development, and school exten 
sion are being carried out. It will be years before 
the results of the work being done are felt by the mass 
of rural dwellers. So that there will be little change 
in the emigration situation. It is probable that 
Mexico will furnish agricultural labor for seasonal 
demand indefinitely. 

Baum: What is the date on that letter? 

Packard: It s not dated, but that would be in the spring of 1927. 

At that time I gathered some statistical material 
on the population of Mexico. There was a large German 
population. This, of course, was after the First World 
War. German capital has always gone into Latin America. 
Germans are especially influential in Argentina and Brazil. 
Of course, there are ex-Nazis among them. German men 
tended to marry daughters of propertied Mexicans. 

The Chinese were very important in Mexico. I think 


Packard : 


there were more Chinese than any other single foreign 

I wrote a report at that time, just a tentative report 
for Dr. Mears, and this is it. 

A report on race relations in Mexico. That sounds very 


Mrs. : 

Daughter Emmy Lou Packard and Diego Rivera 

I d like to hear about Emmy Lou s experience with Diego 

Our first meeting with him was in Mexico City where 
Emmy Lou and I went to join Walter and Clara in the fall 
of 1927. Emmy Lou had been encouraged toward art in the 
Peninsula School and we had heard much about the Mexican 
Open Air Art Schools for the Mexican children, encouraged 
and promoted by the artists and the government of President 
Calles. Miss Bertha Heise, an artist cousin of Walter s, 
told me a great deal about this movement before we went 
to Mexico. So I enquired down there about Diego Rivera 
who was said to be very much interested in the art work 
of children. There were no classes available so I made 
bold and went to see Diego, who was working at the time 
on a big mural in the Secretariat of Education. He came 
down from the scaffold and was very responsive and courteous 
about it all and after looking at her work, he asked her 
to come back in another week to show him more work. So 


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Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

we continued doing that at intervals. He was very careful 
not to criticize or discourage her. He would make suggestions 
about improvement and ask her to come back again to see 
him. Under this stimulus, she did a great deal of painting 
during the four years we were in Mexico. 
What kind of a person was he? 

The first impression was of his being a huge man. He weighed 
about three hundred pounds and moved slowly ponderously, 
but gracefully. He was six feet tall but I remember his 
hands were small. He looked very Mexican--black hair and 
swarthy skin. He seemed gentle and affable, good-natured 
and responsive. He understood some English and we understood 
a little Spanish so we could communicate fairly well. 
Was this your only meeting with him? 

No. We had three other contacts with him here in California 
and another in Mexico. We left Mexico in 1930 and lived 
again in Palo Alto where Emmy Lou re-entered the Peninsula 
School after she finished jr. high in Pasadena her first 
year of high school. At that time--about 1931--Diego was 
invited to do a mural in the San Francisco Stock Exchange 
and he and his wife, Frida Kahlo, were living in the studio 
of Ralph Stackpole on Montgomery Street. We went to see 
them and invited them down to visit the Peninsula School 
and see what that school was doing with children s art. 
They came down and made the visit to the school and spent 
the night with us at our home, "Casa Contenta," on Menlo 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

Oaks Drive. Emmy Lou had a Mexican "mural" on the school 
wall actually done with poster paints on paperand one 
of children and dogs, he liked the Mexican one as he said 
it was good memory work, but disapproved of the other one 
for not being a "memory" one. He seemed to think she had 
the "feeling" and spirit of Mexico in her work. 

When we were driving them back to the city, Diego was 
nauseated by the "slaughter house" smell of the Pacific 
Bone Coal Factory on El Camino Real. Frida was much amused 
by the Fuller Paint sign along the highway near Third and 
Bayshore where a life-sized man swept a paint brush across 
the sign--"El hombre que pinta!" she exclaimed with 
delight. I was recently reminded by Clara that we all went 
to Rivera s studio for the unveiling of a portrait he had 
done of Helen Wills, then at the height of her tennis 
career. He had painted a scene in the transom above the 
studio entry door of a Mexican mother sitting on the side 
walk curbing while her small boy relieved himself toward 
the heads of the entering guests! I wonder where that 
picture is now? It was not "dirty" just very natural and 
true to life in Mexico--at least at that period. 
When was the next time you saw Rivera? 
That was in the summer of 1940 when the Treasure Island 
Fair was organized by San Francisco. Since our visit with 
Diego in 1931, Emmy Lou had finished high school at the 
Sequoia Union High School in Redwood City and had entered 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. ! 

the University of California at Berkeley. In 1933, Walter 
took on a job with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration 
and the family moved to Berkeley where we lived for a year 
on Rock Lane. While doing Community Theater work in Palo 
Alto, Emmy Lou had met Burton Cairns who had just graduated, 
cum laude in architecture from U.C., and a romance developed 
which ended in an elopement to Reno in the summer of 1934. 
She remained in college until the next fall when their 
son, Donald, was born on September 27, 1935. She had been 
urged to take the editorship of The Pelican as she had been 
working as Art Editor of the Daily Californian. However, 
when the man who had been chosen as editor dropped out of 
college, she returned to U.C. at the January semester in 
1936 and became the first woman editor of The Pelican. 
Did she finish college? 

Yes, in 1936. In the meantime, Walter had been asked by 
Rex Tugwell to take charge of the office of Region 9 of the 
Resettlement Administration then being organized to meet 
some of the problems of the great depression. An architectural 
division was organized in this, to take over plans for low 
cost housing in rural areas and several of the recent 
graduates of U.C. architectural school were hired in this 
division. Among them were Burton Cairns, Vernon DeMars, 
Francis Violich, and Corwin Mocine, as well as Garrett 
Eckbo. All of these men are now on the faculty of U.C. 
at this writing, except Burton. Tragedy struck the family 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

when he was killed in an auto accident while on a tour of 

inspection of housing projects in Oregon. While driving 

with Garrett Eckbo in a rainstorm, his car slipped off the 

narrow highway on a curve and was struck by an oncoming 

bus. He was killed instantly and Garrett was in the hospital 

for many months with a crushed leg and other injuries. 

Donald was just past four years old. Burton was just thirty 

and by this time was head of the Division of Architecture 

for Region 9. (See clipping, San Francisco News , December 21, 


What a tragedy! What did Emmy Lou do after that? 

After closing up her apartment in San Francisco, she 
and Donald came to Berkeley to live with us for awhile. 
She enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts for 
one semester to study fresco painting with Moya del Pino 
and sculpture with Ralph Stackpole. Then she went to 
New York to stay with Frances Adams, a long-time friend, 
hoping she could get work in New York. While she was there 
the Art-in-Action section of the Treasure Island Fair was 
opened. Timothy Pfleuger, one of the leading architects 
in San Francisco, was on the Fair Board and he induced Diego 
to come to the Fair in 1940 and paint a big fresco mural, 
which was designed by Mr. Pfleuger to be installed later 
in the Library of San Francisco Junior College (now San 
Francisco State College.) 

There was much difficulty in getting Diego into th<2 


Mrs. ; 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

country because of his avowed Communist sympathies. He 
came for painter s wages. His helpers were paid by W.P.A. , 
except for a few non-W.P.A. volunteers, like Emmy Lou. 
He paid her a small salary out of his own funds. 
You mean house painter s wages? 

Yes. It seems to me that the mural cost $4,000.00 for 
1,650 square feet. I am told that it is now insured for 
$100,000.00 where it is installed in the foyer of the 
Little Theater of San Francisco City College. Incidentally, 
it was designed for a much bigger space and the view of 
it is from too close up for the best effect. 
You said Emmy Lou was in New York. Did she come back on 
a chance she might work on the mural? 

Not exactly. I had heard that Diego was looking for assistants, 
So I went over to see him at the fair (by this time he spoke 
quite good English) and told him of Emmy Lou s situation 
and that she had just completed a course in fresco painting. 
So I asked him if he had any job for her. He said, "Yes, 
I can use her." So I telegraphed her and she came back 
and worked on the mural for the rest of the summer. 
What kind of work did she do? 

She and others did what they call under paint ing, which is 
putting on the gray and black undercoat on the wet plaster. 
After that Diego drew in the design and painted it in color 
on top of the grays and blacks. Diego s chief assistant, 
Arthur Niendorf, was often given such technical jobs as 


Mrs. ; 


Mrs. : 


painting in the Shell Building where accuracy of detail 

was required. Emmy Lou was allowed to paint in color, too. 

She painted most of the blue Bay and such details as the barbed 

wire in the Charlie Chaplin panel. He gave her a corner 

one day of a Mexican village and said, "Let s see if you 

remember your Mexican villages." He stressed the importance 

of memory for a fresco painter. She put on the color as 

well as the detail in this area and he was satisfied with 

it. The mural was designed for the Library of the San 

Francisco Junior College (now San Francisco City College) 

which had been designed by Tim Pfleuger. Tim Pfleuger 

died in the 40 s and the library was not built for a long 

time. Tim s brother Milton and the firm continued to 

construct the buildings, but decided to place the mural 

in the theater instead of the Library. 

The mural was finished in 1940, but was not installed until 

1961--why was that? 

In the first place, the buildings were not yet ready for 

it. So the mural was stored in sections. Then about that 

time, when World War II was brewing in Europe there was 

a great furor over communism and people got very excited 

about Diego since he was a professed communist and it seemed 

wise to play down the mural and it was stored until 1961. 

You may remember that his mural was in the Stock Exchange-- 

which is headquarters of capitalism, shall we say? ( Laughter ) 

Was that when Trotsky was murdered? 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

Yes, Trotsky was assassinated. In fact, Diego at that time 
called himself a trotskyite. He changed. He was a variable 
person in his ideology. His ideas were based more on emotion 
than reason, probably. He was for the Indian, the Mexican- 
Indian, the mestizo he was "for the people." When Trotsky 
was banished from Russia he went to Mexico and Diego gave 
him asylum for a time. Later, they quarreled and Trotsky 
moved to another apartment. He was assassinated while 
Diego was here working on the mural at the Fair. Frida, 
Diego s wife, got word to Diego as quickly as possible. 
He was very much frighcened as he always had been much 
afraid, himself, of being assassinated. 
Did he seem to have an abnormal fear of assassination? 
Yes , though I think it would be rather normal in view of 
the things that he had been doing. People were being 
assassinated who were working on revolutionary activities 
and he had been active in promoting the Mexican Revolution. 
He had led communist parades in Mexico City and exposed 
himself to dangers of that kind. 
What did he do about this situation? 

Because of this fear, he had always refused to ride in 
taxis, so one of Emmy Lou s duties was to drive him back and 
forth from his studio to the Fair. Now, he was afraid to 
sleep in his apartment on Telegraph Hill, so she drove him 
back to Berkeley and he slept in Walter s garden studio 
for the next two weeks and had his breadfast with us. 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. : 

But he went back to work on the mural everyday, coming 
back here at night. The mural was under heavy guard but 
nothing happened so he finally went back to his own quarters. 
What about his wife, Frida? Did she come up, too. 
Yes, she was here part of the time during his staythey had 
broken up the marriage and he was emotionally upset some 
of the time because of that. Frida, herself, was a striking 
sight in her Jalisco costume. She had long black hair, 
into which she braided strands of bright colored yarn and 
would wind this around her head. She often had flowers 
arranged in the yarn as well. With this she wore native 
Mexican costumes purples and Mexican pinks, with a full 
white ruffle around the bottom of the long skirt. When 
she walked down Market Street, she practically stopped traffic! 
She was "little, but Oh My!" and a very good artist herself. 
They were remarried in a simple ceremony in San Francisco 
while she was up here. 

What did all this emotional conflict do to the mural? 
It had its effect, all right. Diego was temperamental by 
nature and this did not help any. We especially remember 
one dramatic day because we were involved in it until 
2 a.m. the next morning. It happened that he did some work 
on the mural which did not suit him at all. He was frus 
trated all that day and none of his helpers could do anything 



Mrs. : 


right. Finally, with his work on the wet plaster still 
unfinished, he threw a temper tantrum, broke his brushes 
in two and gouged out the work he had done . Then he said , 
"get me out of here." So Emmy Lou got the car and they 
drove on the highway toward Palo Alto. He went sound asleep 
and slept and slept and slept. And she drove on and on and 

Finally they came to Dinah s Shack near Palo Alto and 
Diego woke up and they went to the restaurant. It was 
past closing time but the waiters recognized Diego so asked 
him in and gave him a feast. After that, they drove back 
to the city where he got off at his apartment and she 
arrived home in Berkeley about 2 a.m. 
Did you know what was happening? 

No, but we were becoming very worried because she did not 
come home, as she usually phoned us if she would be late. 
The first hint we had of something unusual was a phone call 
from the two plasterers who followed orders to prepare 
the wet plaster for the next day s work. They asked, 

"Do you know where Diego is?" I said, "No." "Then do you 


know where Emmy Lou is?" Still we had no worX when they 

called again at 11 p.m. Diego usually left orders about 
the space to be filled by the plasterers which must be 
exactly right or the work next day could not proceed. 
Diego was very exacting about his technique and if the 
plaster was not right, he could throw a fit about it and 


Mrs. ; 


Mrs. : 


Mrs. ; 


Mrs. : 

most of the crew were afraid of him, though Emmy Lou never 
was and probably he liked her the better for that. He was 
a very powerful personality and with his huge bulk could 
look very menacing. I don t suppose he would have hurt a 
fly, but he d make such a show of it that he scared them. 
How did this end? 

Emmy Lou arrived at our home at 2 a.m. and told us the story. 
I don t remember what happened to the mural the next day! ! 
But it was finally finished and the quote from Diego below 
is from a San Francisco paper, with a photo called "Last 
Touches," showing him and his assistant, Emmy Lou Packard 
working on the mural: "Of the 74 feet x 22 feet mural he 
said, in part: I have never painted a better thing, whether 
in plastic qualities, composition, or coloring. .. it is 
a result of all my previous experiences as a painter: 
because it is a synthesis of seventeen years of work. " 
Then what? 

The mural was put in storage because the building was not 
ready for it and Diego finally went back to Mexico. 
Does Emmy Lou think that he influenced her painting? 
I can t quite answer that myself. But I can quote a little 
from the art critics who judged her exhibit of Mexican 
paintings after she spent the next year in Mexico, living 
in the home of Diego and Frida, where she assisted him in 
his gallery during 1941. Alfred Frankenstein, critic for 
the San Francisco Chronicle, said, (Nov. 23, 1953) : "Emmy 




Lou Packard, at Gump s, works a switch on the customary 
Mexican formula, for she reflects the American scene in 
a style clearly beholden to Diego Rivera. This is true, 
at least, in her numerous color woodcuts ... .her best achieve 
ment, however, is in the water colors. Here Miss Packard 
uses a palette as pungent as Gaugin s. ... these water colors 
are big stuff. They will inevitably take command of any 
room in which they are hung, for a brilliant and positive 
personality stands behind them..." 

I believe that phase of her work is past since much of 
the likeness to Diego lay in the fact that they were both 
painting scenes of Mexico. But she has the skill of expressing 
much with a few lines, as does Diego and no doubt there was 
some unconscious imitation, in method as well as subject 

Did this end your association with Diego Rivera? 
No. After the Fair was over, Emmy Lou and I drove him 
to Brownsville, Texas, where he took a plane for Mexico 
City. We drove her car on to Mexico City and she spent 
about a year there where she lived with Frida and Diego 
in their house in Coyoacan and studio in San Angel. She 
did secretarial work, letters and typing for Diego and helped 
measure the top floor of the National Palace for the frescoes 
he was to paint there. She also prepared canvasses for 
painting. She also painted many oils and water colors 
which she exhibited at Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San 



Packard : 

Mrs. : 

Francisco on her return home, as cited above. 
There was one personal incident that was rather funny. 
Emmy Lou and I were having lunch with Sanchez Mejorada. 
He was the Chief of the National Irrigation Commission 
with whom I had worked in the late 1920 s and a man of 
very high standing. And he didn t know that Diego was going 
to call for us in the afternoon with his car to take us 
somewhere. And so when he showed up and a mozo (a man 
servant) came in to announce very excitedly, "Diego Rivera 
is outside, he s calling for you." And Sanchez Mejorada 
looked at Emmy Lou and at me and said, "Is that so?" And 
I said, "Why yes, but he was to come much later than this. 
But since he s here I d like to have you meet him." So 
we all went out. And Diego got out of his car and was 
very gracious and all. Sanchez Mejorada detested Diego, 
and was taken aback by his calling for us, his good friends. 
And then when he was getting into his car he was so heavy 
and fat that he had difficulty getting both of his pistols 
into the front seat. He d cram one pistol in and then get 
his behind in and then cram the other pistol in. ( Laughter ) 
He wore two pistols? 

Yes. And then we all got in the back seat and we drove off. 
( Laughter ) And Sanchez Mejorada was standing with his 
mouth open, wondering what had happened to Packard. ( Laughter ) 
One other incident deserves mention in connection with the 
visit Diego made to see the Telesis exhibit our architecture 


Mrs. : 



Mrs. : 

crew put on at the San Francisco Museum of Art. 

What is Telesis? 

I can answer that best by quoting from a letter to the San 

Francisco Chronicle of May 30, 1966, written by Garrett 

Eckbo, now chairman, College of Environmental Design, University 

of California. 

Twenty-six years ago a group of young professional 
planners and designers, calling itself Telesis, Envir 
onmental Research Group, put on an exhibit called "Space 
for Living" at the San Francisco Museum of Art. This 
exhibit attempted to deal comprehensively with the spaces 
in which we live, work and play and with the services 
which they require. 

The group of young men mentioned previously as being now 
on the faculty were among the members of this group. 
Recently I found a letter that I had written to Emmy Lou 
while she was in New York and I quote as follows: 

The Telesis boys wanted to get Diego to see their 
exhibit, so I arranged for him to go over there this 
morning. I drove over to Stackpole s house and got 
him about 10 a.m. and took him over to Clay Street 
where the boys are fixing the exhibit. Vernon (DeMars) , 
Joseph McCarthy, Garrett Eckbo and two or three others 
were there. Diego was very much interested in it 
really wasand spent nearly two hours with them. The 
upshot was that he is going to draw a design for one 
pannel for them--and make a statement to be used in the 
prospectus they are getting out. He is also interested 
in the migrant camps and is going to make a trip to 
Yuba City with us and Vernon some time next week. . . 

Baum: Does this finish Emmy Lou s association with Diego Rivera? 

Mrs. : 

I do not remember that she ever saw him after she came back 
from Mexico. But there was another incident connected with 
the mural. Due to an accident while in storage, a hole was 
punched in it, about a foot in diameter. Diego was asked 


Mrs. ; 

to come back and repair it. He refused to come but he 
commissioned Emmy Lou to do the work. She has the contract 
and correspondence concerning this in her files. The work 
was not done until years after Diego died and the mural 
was to be installed at City College in 1961. Emmy Lou 
finally did the work of repairing the damage, as well as 
the finishing work around the edges and frames of the mural. 
She obtained color photographs from Life magazine files and 
copied them as exactly as possible, for color. I believe 
this covers the whole Rivera association with Emmy Lou. 

Two Mistakes and A Lesson 

Packard: The mistake I made in buying land in Imperial Valley 

when I was superintendent of the Imperial Valley Experiment 
Farm was duplicated on a larger scale when I was in Mexico. 
While staying in Durango I met Dr. Harry Gray, an eye 
specialist who was also interested in land. He came to 
Mexico at the invitation of Juan Lasoya, whom he met in 
Canada where Gray owned a large wheat ranch. When things 
settled down after Villa s retirement, Mr. Lasoya returned 
to his Guatimape Hacienda to resume operations. He sold 
a tract of 7,000 acres of "temporal" land, that is, rainfall 
farming land, to Dr. Gray, and together they got a Mennonite 
colony started some miles north of GuatimapS. Although 
Dr. Gray had an office in Durango and was known throughout 


Packard: the area as an eye doctor, he spent much of his time in 
operating his ranch. At planting time in June he would 
arrange to have forty or more mules driven overland from 
the Laguna district near Torreon to GuatimapS when the 
mules were no longer needed in the large cotton fields. 
When the corn and oats were planted the mules were driven 
back again. 

All of this rather fascinated me and I was induced to 
loan Gray some money for operating costs. One thing led 
to another until I found I had to exchange my loan to a 
part interest in the property. In retrospect, I can t imagine 
why I made this move, expecially in view of my interest 
in the land reform program. But I did, and there was no 
objection voiced by the Commission when I informed them of 
my partnership. In any event, this part of Mexico proved 
to be part of the Dust Bowl. The crop which came up with 
the first rain looked very promising. But it just didn t 
rain again and we hardly got our seed back. I traded what 
equity I had left to some Mennonites who, so far as I know, 
are still there. Unfortunately the equity was not enough 
to pay my debts, so when I returned to California at the 
height of the great stock market crash I was a true dust- 
bowler. ( Laughter ) 

This highly educational experience, however, was not 
the only one. On a trip from Monterey to Mexico City 
during the month which Mr. Salorzano gave me to finish 


Packard: my work, I met three men who introduced themselves as pro 
spective investors in Mexico. They had a compilation of 
endorsements about two inches thick. I recognized many 
of the names of nationally known people, including a brother 
of the Secretary of the Navy, Denby. I was impressed by 
their seeming interest in the development of Mexico through 
the investment of American capital and know-how. Dr. Gray 
had a dozen large haciendas listed for sale at what seemed 
to be ridiculously low prices per acre. This list included 
some forest properties in Durango belonging to a Mr. 
Hartmann, a German resident of Mexico City, who also owned 
or controlled some rather extensive hardwood timber lands 
in the tropical lowlands. These properties seemed to be 
just what the Hoovers wanted. 

Baum: The Hoovers you say. Were they related to Herbert Hoover? 
I heard that you had reported unfavorably on a land devel 
opment project being promoted by Herbert Hoover s brother in 
Palo Alto. 

Packard: No, there was no relationship whatever between H. T. and 
Bruce Hoover, the brothers who were the prime operators 
in the Mexican venture, and Herbert Hoover. I did advise 
against a proposed land development plan on the West Side 
of the San Joaquin Valley but that had nothing to do with 
the Mexican Hoovers who proved to be completely unscrupulous, 
One thing led to another. Through Hartmann s interests, 
the manager of the Mexico City branch of the Bank of Canada 


Packard: became involved. Having been dismissed from my position 
with the Comision Nacional de Irrigacion, as previously 
recorded, I agreed to accept a job with the Hoovers as 
their Mexican representatives at a promised salary of 
$15,000.00 per year. I say promised because they only paid 
me $600.00 per month for the few weeks I worked for them. 
I collected a long list of options on properties offered 
by Dr. Gray and Hartmann and then proceeded to Chicago, 
purportedly to meet the board of directors of what 
I thought was a corporation. I had become suspicious of 
the Hoovers who I found were not interested in my analyses 
of the properties. All they wanted to know was the price 
and the acreage which, when combined, seemed to provide 
a basis for profits in resale rather than in operational 

When I got to Chicago, I found that the Hoovers and 
their associates were selling "units of interest" in an 
enterprise that was to take the properties over for exploit 
ation. The "units of interest" said, in fine print, that 
the Hoovers would turn the properties over at cost and would 
not make any profit until the properties were in operation 
and that then their profits would be confined to 2 percent 
of the profits. But I knew this to be completely false. 
The options I had gathered from Gray and Hartmann were 
being turned over to the syndicate for about fifteen times 
the option price. When I confronted the Hoovers with this, 


Packard: I was told that I would be taken into the inner circle and 
would make half a million dollars or more if I went along. 
I was not surprised but floored. What kind of a gang was 
I dealing with? I laid the matter before the syndicate 
attorney whom I soon found to be the legal architect of the 
whole deceitful scheme. I collected what money I could and 
resigned, not, however, until I had a chance to get the 
Better Business Bureau of Chicago to make a photostatic 
copy of one of the units of interest, copies of which I 
was not supposed to have access to. 

I returned to Mexico and exposed the syndicate to the 
American Embassy and to the American Chamber of Commerce, 
and, of course, to my Mexican friends. A year or so later 
I was given a subpoena by a federal marshall in San Francicso 
to appear before the Grand Jury in Chicago on the Hoover 
case. I told my story and on two subsequent occasions I 
appeared as a government witness in two trials in Chicago. 
The first trial ended with eleven votes for conviction 
on every count. The twelfth juror had obviously been 
bribed by the Hoovers. The second trial before a judge 
failed to convict. I was told by the district attorney 
for whom I testified that the judge was hand in glove with 
the crooked syndicate attorney. 

In any case, I had some satisfaction during the first 
trial. I was the first government witness and faced a 
battery of seven Chicago lawyers , headed by a man who had 


Packard: been chief justice of the Supreme Court in Illinois. I 

was able to get a statement in, re the "units of interest." 
What followed was interesting. It went like this. Defense 
attorney: "Do you have one of those units of interest you 
speak about?" Answer: "No, I do not." The defense attorney 
then turned to the jury and said dramatically, "This 
witness is trying to convince you that these so-called 
units exist when, in fact, they do not and never have." 
I interrupted to say that his statement was not true. 
Defense attorney again: "What proof- have you got?" I 
then told of having had the Better Business Bureau make 
a photostatic copy of one of the "units of interest." I 
said, "I have that copy in my pocket. Would you like to 
see it?" The defense attorney said, "No.", and gathered 
up his papers to return to his desk for a conference with 
his six associates while the jury laughed. ( Laughter ) 

I wish it were possible to delete this part of my 
Mexican experience because I am ashamed of having been 
taken in by these two ventures, the partnership with 
Gray and the association with the Chicago syndicate. In 
retrospect I would say that three factors were perhaps 
involved. 1. A desire for big profits and income at the 
very height of the post-war boom. 2. My need of a job 
when my employment with the Mexican government ended. 
(I had lost all contact with any job opportunities in 
California and didn t know where to turn). 3. A peculiar 


Packard: nostalgic love of a childish Mexican illusion, rooted 
perhaps, in the Henty stories of the eighteen-year-old 
rider on a black mustang headed for the rim-rock country 
and adventure . 

I was influenced to a degree by the success which an 
American had made of a cattle ranch between Durango and 
Torreon. Mr. Bell was representing the Cudahy Packing 
Company and seemed to me to demonstrate what could be done 
with adequate capital and know-how. His living quarters 
were very attractive including a large well-cared-for garden 
and fruit orchard. Whatever the factors were that influenced 
me , I came out of the Mexican experience a more mature and 
much wiser man. 

Walter Packard, Emma Packard, Burton Cairns holding Donald, age 3. 
Berkeley - 1938. 

Walter Packard, Army Educa 
tional Corps, A.E.F., France 

t r? p c